Spring in San Diego means many things: the blooming of flower fields in Carlsbad, fascinating “grunion runs” where the silvery fish take over beaches at night and—for San Diego Humane Society—the start of the busiest time of year: baby season.
Kittens need an incredible amount of attention to survive during their first weeks of life—attention that their mother usually provides. But for thousands of orphaned kittens in San Diego each spring, that critical care comes from the compassionate staff and volunteers in San Diego Humane Society’s Kitten Program.
Neonate kittens have several needs that San Diego Humane Society meets in the absence of a mother. They must feed every two to three hours—that’s a lot of bottles! Because they are not benefiting from the antibodies in a mother’s milk, it’s important these young felines are cared for with strict protocols to make sure they steer clear of disease and infection.
Kittens must also stay warm. Body temperature regulation is critical, so heating discs and blankets are a must. And then there’s hygiene. Kittens are adorable but quite messy. Without a mom to groom them, people must step in to keep them clean and healthy.
Back in 2009, San Diego Humane Society opened the country’s first-ever around-the-clock kitten nursery. Now called the Jim Lester Kitten Nursery & Foster Center, it develops and shares best practices for kitten care with shelters across the country. In addition to providing critical care for kittens, the Lester Nursery & Foster Center engages hundreds of trained foster volunteers to provide 24-hour care in their own homes and offers a daycare space for fosters who need help caring for kittens during the day. The facility is now part of a broader Kitten Program that also includes nurseries at San Diego Humane Society’s Escondido and Oceanside campuses. Programs like this are few and far between, and one of the key components to San Diego Humane Society’s commitment to Stay at Zero euthanasia of healthy and treatable shelter animals in San Diego County.
Every spring, animal lovers across our region are invited to participate in a virtual Kitten Shower to help save these thousands of tiny lives. By selecting a gift from one of San Diego Humane Society’s digital baby registries, you can make sure supplies are at the ready for every orphaned kitten who arrives this season. When you select a gift from these baby registries, it shows up right at the nursery doors.
To join in the fun of the virtual Kitten Shower, visit sdhumane.org/kittenshower. You’ll help save some of the most vulnerable lives the shelter sees all year, and you can take in all the cuteness by following along on San Diego Humane Society’s social media channels. That’s a shower we can all appreciate!
Noble is Director of Nursery & Placement, San Diego Humane Society