Calling all cat lovers: It’s the season for giving, and Best Friends Animal Society wants you to know there are ways to help cats and kittens in need.
According to Jessica Pollitz, who covers the Kitten Care Center and Lifesaving Center in the Foster Department, Best Friends Animal Society helps shelters by taking in animals that would otherwise be euthanized. Pollitz said kittens are at particular risk and really struggle in a shelter environment.
“They are really hard to take care of. They require feedings every couple of hours, and if a litter doesn’t have a mom, that makes it ten times harder,” Pollitz said. “Shelters just don’t have the resources; they don’t have the staff, and it’s very time-consuming. So, unfortunately, those little guys get euthanized very often in shelters, and that’s why we opened our kitten care center so we can help care for those animals and give them a life.”
In fact, Pollitz said the goal of Best Friends Animal Society in Utah is to help Utah eventually become a no-kill state and the U.S., a no-kill nation by 2025. Animals that have behavioral problems or serious medical issues are often euthanized, but a no-kill policy would make it so animals without these problems are not also being killed.
What that means, she said, is that “any healthy animal without behavioral challenges is making it out of the shelter alive… So we’re trying to really close that gap and give the animals and dogs and cats a chance to live a happy life and a home versus being euthanized in a shelter for no reason.”
But what can concerned cat lovers do to help?
According to a news release from Best Friends, the society recently switched to a kitten program which is heavily based on fostering since kittens generally do better in homes.
“Foster parents and foster homes are going to be the bread and butter of what we need to be successful. With our new model here at the Kitten Care Center, essentially kittens will come in from a shelter and flip around and go right back out into a foster home,” Pollitz said.
“So we want those animals to spend very little time here, but spending time growing and thriving in a home. That way we can open more kennels here and keep the ball rolling and be able to save more lives.”
With the new kitten care model, Pollitz said they need fosters more than ever, and they are constantly recruiting.
“If anyone ever wants to foster- short-term, long-term- please try it. Give it a shot. We provide all of the supplies for our foster homes, so you don’t have to spend any money. “All you have to do is provide the care and bring them in for vet visits or to get spayed and neutered and send them off to get adopted in our life-saving center.”
She also stressed that volunteers at the shelter are just as critical to work there. Volunteers at the So, we need fosters more than ever, volunteers are just as critical to the work we do. Volunteers at the lifesaving center assist with day-to-day work of caring for animals.
“Those are two very huge things that we need to be successful,” Pollitz said.
For those who are interested in fostering kittens but may be nervous, Pollitz said Best Friends Animal Society is there to help. Not only will they provide all needed supplies, but can show interested fosters how to properly care for the kittens. Foster parents also have constant access to kitten experts at the nursery.
Those interested in providing foster homes to kittens should visit utah.bestfriends.org and follow the prompts for fostering. They will need to fill out an application, follow a few steps, and watch a video. Then, they can pick up kittens to care for. Pollitz said its a quick and easy process.
To put Best Friend’s success in perspective, the center took in just under 1,200 animals in 2018 and over 1,500 animals in 2019. In 2019, they adopted out about 2,000 animals.
According to Pollitz, the new model of sending kittens to foster homes will help adoptions to skyrocket.
Her favorite thing about working at the kitten nursery?
“I can’t even pick a favorite thing! Seeing so many amazing animals that wouldn’t have had a positive outcome that come here and get adopted and find their forever homes- that’s where my heart is at,” she said.
Click here to connect with Best Friends Animal Society.
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