Best Friends Kitten Nursery will open its doors once again March 15 — time for Salt Lake City’s kitten season. The nursery, which takes in individual kittens litters or nursing kittens with their mothers, works around-the-clock to make sure they get the TLC they need. Nursing kittens are especially prone to diseases and without the proper care, they make up a group of animals that have the hardest time getting out of high volume shelters alive. The kitten nursery partners with municipal shelters in the surrounding area to ensure that the kittens are quickly removed from harm’s way. Last year, the lifesaving Best Friends Kitten Nursery, fueled by trained volunteers, took in more than 1,300 kittens.
Ruth Weisman began volunteering for Best Friends when she heard about the kitten nursery. She went through the required training on her birthday last April, and for her, it’s been a gift that keeps on giving. “I have actually tried to help out at a few animal shelters, but the dogs tend to overwhelm me, says Ruth. “Also, I often found that one of the regulars had usually already taken care of cleaning and feeding the cats, too. So, I just hadn't found the right fit.”
Like most volunteers, Ruth really wanted to feel productive. “At the kitten nursery, there is always something to do — and a variety of things to do at that,” says Ruth. “As a volunteer I like to feel needed. So, knowing there is always something to be done at the nursery makes it rewarding.”
Ruth also loves the flexible schedule. Because the kittens require 24-hour care, there’s a volunteer shift that fits into everyone’s hectic life. In addition to making an impact, she also relishes the camaraderie. “I really love the staff and other volunteers,” says Ruth. “It’s really nice to sit in a room with other cat people. We share stories, give advice, get advice. They're a very different crowd than most of the people I work and hang out with.”
Bobbi Gordon, another nursery volunteer, echoes Ruth’s sentiments. She had tried a variety of volunteer roles with other organizations, but none was a perfect fit. When her friend told her about the ability to set her own schedule and work directly with kittens at the kitten nursery, she was thrilled. “There are a lot of things I enjoy about the nursery,” says Bobbi. “I have obviously enjoyed the kittens — from newborns to independent eaters. I recruited my mom to volunteer as well, so this was something fun that we could share. I also enjoyed being able to use my skills to help a tangible and local cause.”
The “A” Team
While there is a lot of enjoyment in helping kittens, it is a medical facility. Kristina Storminess, Best Friends volunteer coordinator, says, “We want folks to find volunteering with the kitten nursery rewarding and uplifting, but we really need focused individuals who understand the serious side of their service.”
All Best Friends Kitten Nursery volunteers go through 10 hours of training to become a full-fledged volunteer and each volunteer must commit to one shift per week. The training involves four classes, followed by spending a period of time trailing an experienced volunteer. The training covers everything from cat handling and cat behavior to nursery protocols and contamination prevention. The emphasis is on the kitten’s health and safety, along with the volunteers.
This year the Best Friends Kitten Nursery wants to save more lives than last year. As always, it is the unswerving dedication of volunteers that is most integral to achieving these greater goals.
Help support the Best Friends Kitten Nursery by providing much needed supplies at http://bit.ly/KittenNurseryList