“I adopted my first kitten, now an 8-year-old cat, at a PetSmart adoption event in June 2013.
I was struggling with depression and trying to push my way through grad school and Lancelot has been helping me with his affection from our union.”
“Fast forward a few more years and I once again turned toward kittens as a way to help me with my mental health. In 2018, I was struggling with another depressive spell but this time turned to volunteering with APA!. I started off in the ringworm cattery before figuring out how to volunteer in the neonatal nursery. I really wanted to focus on the nurturing of kittens to mirror self-care.”
For many of us, self-care and mental health came into focus during the Coronavirus Pandemic, and for us Texans, during Winter Storm Uri. When Winter Storm Uri hit Texas in mid-February this year, it leftover four million people out of power and water for days. Temperatures got down to historically low single digits, and there was widespread loss of internet and cell phone reception.
In our work, lives are on the line every day. When disasters like Uri hit, it takes a village to ensure no companions’ lives are lost — no matter the circumstances. Luckily, we have people like Kimberley on our side.
“I was on my second kitten of the year when Winter Storm Uri hit,” said Kimberley. “I had an adorable 7-week old orange kitten named Finn when I lost electricity.
For three days straight he spent the majority of the time in bed with me curled up next to my chest while I was under five blankets. My older cats were on top of the blankets surrounding us. No heating pad or warm gruel during this storm. I was totally iced in.”
“I went to my car a few times in an attempt to charge my phone and had the heat on to try to keep him warmer. Prior to my in-laws taking me and all four felines in where they had electricity, I did fear he was starting to fade on me.”
Neonates, kittens from birth to six weeks of age, are often bottle-fed every few hours and often kept on heating pads during normal temperatures. Caring for Finn during Winter Storm Uri quickly became a life-or-death situation.
To perk him up, Kimberley knew she had to make warm sugar water for him to drink. But with no electricity and no running water, this wasn’t going to be easy. Luckily, Kimberley saved some clean water prior to the boiling order and was able to make the concoction with room temperature water — though room temperature was about 26 degrees.
“It was terrifying trying to keep him warm and not suffocate him as he burrowed up against my chest, sometimes inside my jacket after coming out to eat or use the litter box,” said Kimberley. “He was a trooper though.”
Despite being without power for 48 hours and without water for 72 hours, our shelter remained operational. We mobilized to place 90 percent of our population in foster homes, and our fosters were more vital than ever. Nothing stopped our teams from saving lives and placing pets in forever homes.
“I didn't even have a halfway charged phone prior to losing power and had spotty signals at best. Yet the adoption team still managed to send me adoption requests, despite the challenges we all faced in Austin. I recall replying to two potential adopters when I had maybe 5 percent battery and trying to set up future Zoom meet and greets.” said Kimberley. “In the end, Finn did go to one of those potential adopters.”
“It was a horrible situation, but I can assure you the off-site volunteers and all of us fosters were doing our best to keep the animals alive and continuing our darndest to further Austin's goal of No Kill. We did our best to keep the animals alive with what little resources we had without electricity.”
“At this point, I've taken in 64 kittens in my four kitten seasons. Of the 21 I've had so far this season, 4 have been through the P.A.S.S. program. The majority of my kittens have had ringworm and I do my best to inform people that ringworm is not a reason to reject an otherwise healthy animal. I hope to continue saving kittens and adding joy to other people's lives with my fosters.”
“I truly consider myself a social worker for both humans and cats.”
Without lifesavers and advocates like Kimberley, APA! companions may have been lost during the winter storm. We need you to join Kimberley to fight for No Kill to stay in Austin so pets like Finn and all of Kimberley’s kitties get the same chances as healthy pets by making a gift today.
With our No Kill future at risk more now than ever before, we need your help TWICE as much to keep Austin No Kill. Give today and double your impact for companions in need.
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