[caption id="attachment_12471" align="alignnone" width="528" caption="Bailey nurses the Q1 litter alongside her own kittens. Can you tell who's who?"][/caption]
Most people call it Spring and Summer, but those of us in animal rescue know it as Kitten Season. After a slow start, kitten season is now in full swing. Here at APA, that would normally mean lots of sleepless nights and countless volunteer hours spent feeding orphaned kittens, both in foster homes and at our Bottle Baby Nursery.
This year, however, those hours are fewer, though far from nonexistent, and our nights are more restful thanks to a new focus on the best caretakers for these tiny kittens: mama cats!
[caption id="attachment_12472" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Vivian came to us without kittens, but she was still lactating. She heard the cries of the V1 litter, who had been rescued from a drainage pipe the night before, and tried to claw out of her carrier to be with the kittens. She has since taken in singletons X1 and Y1, as well as a struggling kitten from the Z1 litter."][/caption]
Our expanded Nursing Moms program is helping orphaned kittens get back to the warm, cozy cuddles, spit baths, and the perfect nutrition and immune system building that only a mother cat can provide. Eleven of our 26 litters of orphans so far this year are being cared for by a surrogate nursing mom.
[caption id="attachment_12473" align="alignnone" width="486" caption="Kallie didn't bat an eyelash when Richie and Rooney joined her litter. Maybe she just thought she was seeing double!"][/caption]
The Nursing Moms program is also helping the mother cats get on the road to happy, post-homeless lives, too. Pregnant and nursing moms now receive the same priority treatment as unweaned kittens when they arrive at Town Lake Animal Center, and they are able to come to APA on the same day they arrive at the shelter. This helps them avoid the health risks associated with longer shelter stays and makes it possible for us to match healthy orphans with healthy mamas almost immediately.
Watch a video of our first blended family of the season, taken just moments after they met. Gabby and her kittens have all been adopted!
These sweet little families need one more thing to help them on their way to adoption, and that is foster homes that can care for them while mama raises the kittens. Moms-to-be also need a safe, loving place to deliver and care for their babies. Watching the love between mama and babies is one of most endearing and rewarding foster experiences we can offer, and many more kitty families will need our help this year. If you have the space in your home and heart to take in one of these deserving cats and care for her on her journey through motherhood, visit our website and complete our Foster Application. http://www.austinpetsalive.org/get-involved/foster/
[caption id="attachment_12475" align="alignnone" width="486" caption="Dianna and her kittens are waiting for a foster home. Look at those fat, happy babies!"][/caption]
Special thanks to the fosters and nursery caretakers of mama cats Bailey, Bandy, Cassie, Dianna, Emma, Eva, Gabby, Gia, Gracie (both of them!), Iris, Kallie, Kiera, Lavender, Lily, Mamie, Mimi, Margaret, Ms Kitty, Paris, Sprite, Vivian, and Yvonne. Together, we are saving so many lives!