One of the things that has really stuck with me through all of my years working in animal welfare is how deeply critical foster homes are to saving lives. Shelters and rescue organizations depend on foster homes to take in animals who need some extra TLC, whether it’s a dog recovering from a surgery, a cat who doesn’t quite trust people yet, or a neonate who has been orphaned.
All across the country, newborn orphaned kittens are some of the quickest to be euthanized if fosters don’t step up to care for them. There are five main reasons why this happens:
1. Shelters aren’t safe for newborns
Newborn kittens have incredibly delicate immune systems and are susceptible to germs and viruses floating around a shelter that may not affect older, vaccinated cats.
2. Many shelters lack resources
Even with good intentions, many shelters (particularly rural ones), simply don’t have the resources to provide the extra supplies and medical care neonates may require.
3. Lack of knowledge
Let’s face it, caring for neonates can be scary, especially if you’ve never done it before. And something as simple as not feeding a newborn in the correct position can put the kitten at risk.
4. Neonates are time consuming
Most shelters are understaffed. Unless your local shelter is one of the lucky ones to have a nursery with dedicated staff, there often won’t be anyone who can feed kittens every couple of hours for as long as the kitten will need it.
5. Neonates need overnight care
Newborn kittens need to be fed every 2-4 hours around the clock (even at night) and there won’t always be a bottle-feeding-savvy shelter staff member who is able to take kittens home with them.
Getting involved with fostering neonates in your community is the best way to save these vulnerable lives. And if you need some help learning the ins and outs of caring for them, we've got your back!