There’s nothing quite as special as a sisterly bond, and Queenie and Quinnie are no exception. These two sisters were attached from the start. Born premature, their mother left and never returned to care for the two girls, who were too weak to suckle on their own. At this point, it would seem that these new lives were “too vulnerable” to survive. Our Neonatal Kitten Nursery knew otherwise.
The first of its kind in the nation, the Neonatal Kitten Nursery began operating in 2009 out of a small trailer. At the time, there was no solution in place on how to care for orphaned kittens – besides enthanisa. APA! knew these little lives deserved a chance to thrive, so we set out to find a solution to this epidemic.
The Nursery, affectionately called the Bottle Baby Program, has come a long way since those first days in the trailer. Now located at our Tarrytown Facility, it’s open only to staff and volunteers in order to keep a sterile environment for our newborns. Our amazing team of staff, volunteers, and fosters look after these kittens around the clock, which includes feedings every two hours. By providing shelter and care to these orphaned kittens, the nursery fills the gap in Central Texas sheltering that is necessary to save the lives of thousands of kittens each year – kittens like Queenie and Quinnie.
Austinites Darcy and Sterling were looking to add a new furbaby to their family when they saw Queenie’s photo. Sterling and their daughter quickly fell in love with her tiger-striped face and knew they had to meet her. It was a pleasant surprise for the family when they were introduced to Queenie’s sister, Quinnie, during the meet and greet. Although the couple were looking to adopt only one that day, they ended up going home with two: “Our original plan was for one kitten, but once we saw the two of them together, we knew we couldn’t separate them,” recalls Darcy. “It was my husband [who] fell head over heels with their sisterly love. He wouldn’t have taken one without the other!”
Queenie and Quinnie quickly adjusted to their new home. The couple enthusiastically shares that each day just keeps getting better and better! Even though the two sisters are inseparable, they have quite different personalities: “Queenie is very much like her name, and she’s not afraid to ask for what she wants … or just take it. She’s not too affectionate, but when she trusts someone she will lay on her back and let them rub her belly. That’s unique for a high maintenance cat. Quinine is the lovey one! She will get in your face and lick your chin to show affection. It’s super cute. Sometimes you think she’s just coming up to say hi to you, but then she does a surprise lick attack on your chin which sometimes turns into a nibble,” gushes the couple. It’s clear there’s no shortage of affection for these little ladies.
When asked what makes the kittens so special to them, the couple went back to their sisterly bond: “They have their alone time for a bit, but then moments later, they are back to conquer the world together! When they are resting/sleeping, they always snuggle up, usually [with] Queenie having her arm around her sister! She seems to be the “big sister.” As you can see in the photos, they’ve always slept in this precious way.
Seeing Queenie and Quinnie romping around and being kittens, one would never know the rough start they had in life. Since they were born so young, they were tube fed in order to get the nutrients they needed to grow stronger. After about a week and a half, they were able to suckle and started taking a bottle. Not too long after [bottle feeding began], they went home with Darcy and Sterling, proving that they were never “too vulnerable” to have a chance at life.
Darcy and Sterling can’t imagine their lives without Queenie and Quinnie in it. They complete their family. When these sisters had no one else in the world to care for them, our Neonatal Nursery was there to save their lives, no matter how vulnerable they were.
This week, we are celebrating all the homeless companion animals who have been deemed “too” anything. All too often, shelter animals in the United States are euthanized because they are “too vulnerable,” like Queenie and Quinnie; but these tough sisters prove that being “too vulnerable” isn’t a valid reason for euthanasia.
There are ways in which we can nurture and protect these lives. If you’re a shelter wondering how you can create or grow your own Neonatal Nursery, please learn more here.
If you want to take part in the saving of thousands of tiny bottle babies, then please consider giving today. While we take pride in the progress we have made for Central Texas shelter pets, none of this would have been possible without your support. You are the reason why we are able to give back to kittens like Queenie and Quinnie, and find their forever families.