To accomplish something as big as achieving a No-Kill Utah, you have to start small. With that in mind, Best Friends Animal Society opened a kitten nursery in South Salt Lake in March 2014.
Cats generally don’t go into heat during the winter months, so shelters see a flood of kittens come through their doors in the spring, many without their mothers.
Unfortunately, without additional support, newborn kittens are the animals most likely to be killed in shelters. Municipal shelters do not have the staff, facilities, volunteers, and other resources required to offer around-the-clock care that orphaned kittens require. To help save these little lives, Best Friends’ kitten nursery is open nine months of the year to provide a safe haven until these kittens are old enough to be adopted.
During kitten season — which generally lasts from March until November in Utah — a dedicated team of staff and volunteers at the kitten nursery take care of hundreds of fragile orphaned kittens, as well as nursing mothers and their kittens.
Because orphaned baby kittens are very fragile and need lots of love and care, the facility operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Volunteers in two-hour shifts are responsible for bottle-feeding, cage cleaning, socializing kittens, preparing food, laundry and general cleaning.
The kittens come to the nursery from South Salt Lake Animal Services, West Valley Animal Services, West Jordan Animal Services, Murray City Animal Services, and Salt Lake County Animal Services. Invitations to participate have been extended to the three remaining shelters in Salt Lake County. As much as staff would like to help, the nursery cannot accept kittens from the public because the Best Friends facility is solely a support resource for the organization’s shelter partners.
Once they reach two pounds or two months and can be spayed or neutered, kittens are highly adoptable and find homes quickly through the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Sugar House, at 1100 E. 2005 S.
There are many ways to get involved and help the kittens. Hundreds of volunteers are needed each season to help the kittens. Foster homes are needed for kitten nursery graduates who are old enough to eat independently, but not quite big enough to be spayed or neutered before adoption. Donations of supplies are also welcome, and the kittens appreciate items such as blankets, toys, formula, and bottles.
Best Friends Animal Society-Utah plans to save 1,500 kittens through the kitten nursery this year, serving as a lifesaving force for many local felines, including community cats. More than 600 have already come through the nursery since it opened in March.
Last year, nearly 1,200 kittens were saved through the kitten nursery, and the kittens munched through more than 1,300 cases of wet kitten food and 18,000 pounds of dry food.
Best Friends-Utah requests that pet parents take advantage of the free and low-cost spay/neuter programs that Best Friends Animal Society-Utah has available at utah.bestfriends.org.
Giving hundreds of tiny kittens the chance they need is just one way Best Friends Animal Society and animal lovers are working together to Save Them All.