Springtime brings with it a busy kitten season for the San Diego Humane Society, which is holding its annual kitten shower virtually this year.
From March 18-31, community members can donate items including kitten formula, bottles, heating pads, scales, and blankets from Humane Society’s online baby registries.
Donated supplies will help thousands of orphaned kittens under eight weeks of age brought to the Humane Society requiring 24-hour care. Purchased items are delivered directly to the Humane Society.
“As the days get longer and it gets lighter, that triggers animals to go into their breeding cycles,” said Humane Society nursery and foster manager Jackie Noble. “And as animal babies are being born, that coincides with people being outside doing things more and discovering orphaned kittens.
“We are doing our kitten shower to help us have a successful kitten season. We rely on the generosity of our community to ensure each kitten gets the shelter, nourishment, medical care, and love they need to thrive.”
The Humane Society’s Kitten Nursery was the first of its kind in the country, providing around-the-clock care. Before the 24-hour Kitten Nursery was established in 2009, many orphaned kittens were in danger of euthanasia because of a lack of resources required to care for them. But today, these fragile kittens have the chance to grow, thrive, and be adopted.
And given San Diego’s year-round mild weather, Noble noted that “we actually have two peaks in our kitten season.” She added the first peak is the end of April extending into May. “Then we’ll have a second peak usually around August and September when the second litters of the year are being born.”
Noble added the Humane Society also has a foster program for people willing to take kittens into their homes. “We usually get more than 4,000 kittens each season, from teeny tiny newborns all the way up to eight weeks,” she pointed out. “Our goal is to use our resources here at San Diego Humane Society is to keep those kittens healthy until after eight weeks when we spay and neuter them and place them up for adoption. Our goal is always to get them healthy and stable and find them their adoptive homes.”
The Humane Society has teamed with Amazon, Target, and Walmart to have “various different websites people can go to and order supplies they see on that list,” said Noble adding, “Then those supplies are divided between our campuses and our foster programs. People can also drop off donations for supplies at any of our locations during business hours.”
Noble noted hungry kitties go through supplies “very quickly.” For instance, the Humane Society goes through 20 pounds of kitten formula, the most highly needed item for donation, in just three to five days.
The Humane Society’s scope of social responsibility goes beyond adopting animals. The organization offers programs that strengthen the human-animal bond, prevent cruelty and neglect, provide medical care, educate the community and serve as a safety net for all pet families.
Serving San Diego County since 1880, San Diego Humane Society has campuses in El Cajon, Escondido, Oceanside, Ramona, and San Diego. For more information, visit sdhumane.org.
– Place the kitten on a heating pad or wrap them snugly in a warm towel until their temperature stabilizes. Always make sure there is a blanket or towel between the kitten and the heat source to prevent them from being burned.
– For kittens, less than 4-5 weeks, set up a cage or crate with a heating pad or disc on the bottom ensuring half the area has heat and the other half does not. Place a towel or blanket over the heat source. A soft fleece baby blanket works best.
– Cover the cage in front of the crate with a towel to keep the area draft free.
– Any formula designed for kittens will be suitable for orphaned kittens but no cow’s milk. Once prepared the kitten formula must be refrigerated if not used right away. It must be discarded after 24 hours or else it will spoil and cause kittens to get diarrhea.
– Formula is made with 1 part formula to 2 parts warm water.
– Kittens less than 2 weeks of age should eat every 3-4 hours.
– Kittens 2-4 weeks should eat every 4-5 hours. They should not be woken up overnight to feed if they are sleeping.
– Kittens should eat approximately 30 mls of formula for every 100g they weigh. This should be spread over a 24-hour period.
– Kittens that are weak and not eating enough may need to be fed more frequently. These kittens may also need supportive fluids and dextrose.
– Test the formula temperature before feeding; it should be warm, not hot, and around 100°F. You should warm the bottle by placing it in hot water or a microwave can be used. Mix the formula well and test the temperature before feeding.
– Positioning is very important. Laying kittens on their backs while feeding may cause aspiration which is when kittens inhale formula into their respiratory tract rather than swallowing. Aspiration can lead to pneumonia which is often fatal in young kittens. To prevent aspiration, feed the kitten flat on their belly.
– When placing the bottle into the kitten’s mouth, open the mouth gently with the tip of your finger. You may need to place the nipple in from the side of the mouth rather than into the front. To prevent air from getting into the stomach, hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle.
– If they refuse to take to the nipple or suckle, try rubbing the kittens' cheeks or cupping their faces. This often encourages them to latch. If you have multiple kittens you can feed them together to encourage sibling competition for the nipple.
– Using a toothbrush to “groom” the kitten helps them to relax because the roughness feels like a mama cat’s tongue.