The Best Friends Kitten Nursery in Salt Lake City takes in kittens of all ages, with or without their nursing mothers, and gives them the critical care they need to thrive. The kittens come from the area’s municipal shelters: South Salt Lake Animal Services, Murray City Animal Shelter, West Valley City Animal Services, West Jordan Animal Services and Salt Lake County Animal Services.
The nursery helps to save some of the most at-risk animals in shelters. Because kittens are fragile and often require around-the-clock care, the nursery is a cornerstone to realizing NKUT goals. NKUT (No-Kill Utah) is an initiative led by Best Friends Animal Society that brings together passionate individuals, city shelters and an entire coalition of animal welfare organizations to end the killing of dogs and cats in shelters throughout the state.
The kitten brigade
The kitten nursery is closing for the winter, and it’s doing so on a high note: The goal for this year was to help 1,200 kittens, but a grand total of 1,385 kittens got a great start in life. "I am amazed at the lifesaving results we have seen from the kitten nursery,” says Alicia Conover, a kitten nursery caregiver. “We literally hit the ground running in March and didn't stop until November. I have never seen a team of volunteers, foster parents and staff work so hard to reach our goals."
With almost 400 volunteers signed up for on-site volunteer shifts and more than 110 foster families, the community really joined in to help save every life. Folks like Jane and Steven Hambleton, who have opened their home to 95 kittens over the years, find fostering kittens to be as rewarding as it is fun. The compassionate couple helped save one of the neediest litters this year. Dubbed the “treasure kittens,” they were discarded like trash, but thanks to Jane and Steve, all six of them were nursed to health and adopted out.
“We don't feel like we do anything special,” says Steven. “They are all worth saving. We just do what people who love animals do: When they need help, we give it to them.” It’s that can-do attitude, shared by the rest of the foster families, that makes the nursery able to send so many kittens to forever homes.
Everything they need
One of the best aspects of fostering kittens is seeing them find their forever homes. When the kittens are old enough (and healthy enough) to be adopted, they go to the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Sugar House. The center features cage-free “cat cafés,” where more volunteers and staff continue to socialize the youngsters until they are adopted. All in all, Best Friends-Utah provides everything that homeless kittens need to grow into the best companion animals they can be.
“Since the inception of the Best Friends Kitten Nursery, we here at the West Valley/Taylorsville animal shelter have seen nothing but impressive lifesaving results,” says operations director Kelly Davis. “Our shelter was not in the position to provide the necessary attention, both medically and personally, that is needed for young kittens. Best Friends saw the dilemma and offered to help by starting the kitten nursery. Our shelter is a no-kill shelter because of programs such as the kitten nursery. This program is invaluable to the goal of no-kill.”
The Best Friends Kitten Nursery will re-open in March 2015, in time to make a lifesaving impact on the next kitten season.
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Learn more about Best Friends-Utah.