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Behind the Scenes at a Kitten Bottle Nursery

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Behind the Scenes at a Kitten Bottle Nursery

Walking into the neonatal kitten unit housed in the Davenport building of Austin Pets Alive’s Lady Bird Lake Campus is an experience like no other. At first glance it looks like your typical veterinary hospital unit, with floor to ceiling cages and an array of syringes and other medical instrumentation arranged on the counter. The walls are painted white, the lighting is fluorescent and people come and go on a regular basis attending to the sanitation and cleanliness of rooms that house dozens of animals at any one point in time. But what’s striking about this unit is the intense quiet broken by tens of little meows – an immediate sign of the many young lives being nurtured and saved. On Thursday afternoon, this is where I found Faith Wright, Director of Operations at APA, bottle feeding kittens together with one of the many APA volunteers that are essential to all of the organization’s programs, including the Bottle Baby Nursery.

“I have a new favorite today” she said, “I-21″, referring to a small white kitten no more than a few days old that she had bottle fed earlier that afternoon. She informed me that he was a good eater. The good eaters bring hope to the Bottle Baby Nursery – which, although has an overall success rate of around 80 percent, can see multiple kittens pass away on any one day. The good eaters are a reminder of the successes of the Bottle Baby Nursery, which provides intensive, round the clock care to newborn kittens until they are capable of eating on their own.

An APA volunteer bottle feeds a kitten in the Bottle Baby Nursery

Prior to the introduction of the Bottle Baby Nursery at Austin Pets Alive, the vast majority of kittens brought into Austin shelters were euthanized. The program has changed the landscape for the care of orphaned kittens in the Austin area by providing the resources and manpower necessary for the intensive 24 hour care required by this fragile class of animals. In 2011, APA was able to take in every orphaned kitten that arrived at Austin Animal Center, the City of Austin run animal shelter from which Austin Pets Alive pulls a large number of its animals. The organization is on track to do the same in 2012.

Although my initial intention on Thursday was to simply stop by APA to introduce myself to Faith and let her know that I’d be working with the organization over the long term on a photography project, she quickly encouraged me to take the opportunity to learn about the program and photograph the organization at work.

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Read more: Cats, Pet Health, Pets, , ,

By Sarah Bremer, APA

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Austin Pets Alive!

Austin Pets Alive!, a nonprofit organization run almost exclusively by dedicated volunteers, is working to make Austin a no-kill city. They are implementing Innovative and progressive programs after studying the best practices of other cities who are no-kill or are in the process of becoming no-kill. Like their Facebook page for updates and cute pet pics!

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1:34PM PDT on Mar 11, 2013


7:02AM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

Much like Deborah posted....I have tremendous respect and admiration for those who are, what I term "front line animal advocates". While the rewards must be tremendous there must be a lot of heartache that goes with the territory. I am an armchair animal advocate because I know my heart could probably not deal well with the heartaches.

That being said I want to thank everyone who steps up to help the animals. Austin Pets Alive is an AWESOME organization too. Thank you for sharing this story.

3:36PM PDT on Oct 31, 2012

Admiration and appreciation to the Austin facility and volunteers - though I have a feeling the volunteers get back from the kittens as much or more than they give.

I only hope that these cared-for and socialized kittens will each get adopted into a forever home. Our pets bring out the best in our human selves. We are privileged to share life with them.

10:44AM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

great article and photos, thanks for sharing :)

1:44PM PDT on Oct 25, 2012

Just seeing them warms the heart.

7:39AM PDT on Oct 23, 2012

so sweet and loving.I wish and hope that more such intitutions arise.

3:38AM PDT on Oct 23, 2012

Good work! God bless you! may you have resources and love to go on with this and most kitten may find loving houses! They are so sweet!

9:10PM PDT on Oct 22, 2012

This is so beautiful! My husband and I have hand raised several litters of kittens. Our latest litter of 3 were just 5 days old when we found them. (Now they're 8 years old and still with us. ;-)

9:07PM PDT on Oct 22, 2012

Angels one and all.

6:07PM PDT on Oct 22, 2012

So glad there are people who care for the innocent and give them a chance at life. Wish there were more organizations like this. We have to start making those who breed animals, including backyard breeders responsible for the animals they produce. Make them all get breeders license and have to take back the animals that they have produced, no matter how old or sick they are. The shelters have to do this, so should the breeders.

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