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Lifesaving Kitten Nursery
Best Friends Kitten Nursery
To accomplish something as big as ending the killing of pets in shelters, you have to start small. That’s why Best Friends in Utah is focusing on saving kittens, some of the most at-risk pets in shelters. Government-operated municipal shelters do not have the staff, facilities, volunteers and other resources required to provide around-the-clock care to orphaned kittens. With that in mind, the Best Friends Kitten Nursery opened in March 2014 in South Salt Lake. Every day, staff and volunteers take care of about 100 orphaned kittens (under two months of age and less than two pounds in weight), as well as nursing mothers and their kittens.
In 2016, more than 6,300 cats and kittens were killed in Utah shelters, which constituted about 79 percent of all shelter deaths in the state. For Utah to become No-Kill Utah (NKUT), efforts need to be sharply focused on saving more cats in shelters, especially neonatal kittens. That’s why each kitten who comes to South Salt Lake Animal Services, West Valley City Animal Services, West Jordan Animal Services, Salt Lake County Animal Services and many from Davis County and Sandy now move on to the Best Friends Kitten Nursery.
Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the nursery has lots of space to help kittens grow, and a separate studio for nursing mothers and their kittens. The nursery’s team of staff members, volunteers and foster homes provide around-the-clock care for every kitten. Some of their duties include bottle-feeding every two hours, preparing food to fill kitten bellies, doing laundry, making sure each kitten has a warm blanket, and more. No matter the task, the goal is to provide each kitten with all the TLC he or she needs.
Want to volunteer? Click here to get started. This application will walk you through what it's like to volunteer at the nursery. Note that all volunteers need to be at least 16 years old with reliable transportation and the ability to commit to at least one two-hour shift per week. If you're considering applying, note that the recruiting period for the nursery is from February through May ONLY!
Each year, the kitten nursery saves nearly 1,500 once-abandoned, once-hopeless kittens and provides them with what’s needed so they can live long, happy lives.
Please note: As much as we wish it were possible, the Best Friends Kitten Nursery is unable to take in kittens from the public. The nursery is geared solely toward supporting Utah shelter partners.
Why a kitten nursery?
Orphaned kittens and nursing mother cats are an at-risk population in shelters for two main reasons — their susceptibility to illness and shelters’ lack of medical and human resources.
Because there are so many animals entering shelters, there’s a great risk of cross contamination and easy transmission of bacteria. That’s not good for growing kittens because their immune systems are still forming and maturing, and therefore are susceptible to diseases and illnesses. Mother cats are also more at risk because of increased stress levels and shelter housing limitations. If their kittens are to survive, it’s crucial that mother cats stay in good health so they can meet their fragile kittens’ needs.
Newborn kittens are completely unable to care for themselves. They can’t urinate or defecate by themselves and are prone to hypothermia. Because mother cats often become stressed in a shelter setting, which reduces their ability to care for their kittens, human intervention, which includes constant monitoring, is necessary to ensure survival. As mentioned above, shelters seldom have the human resources to provide this level of care.
How you can help
There are lots of additional ways you can help care for the kittens in the nursery:
- Volunteer. Click here to get started. This application will walk you through what it's like to volunteer at the nursery. Note that all volunteers need to be at least 16 years old with reliable transportation and the ability to commit to at least one two-hour shift per week. If you're considering applying, note that the recruiting period for the nursery is from February through May ONLY!
- Open your door and foster kittens in need. Click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Provide kittens with items they desperately need. Please take a look at our Amazon wish list and order online at http://bit.ly/KittenNurseryList
- Donate items by dropping them off at the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Salt Lake City. Click here for directions and hours.