We’re Expecting! New Nursery Will Help Curb Kitten Season

Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 12:00pm
ASPCA staff holding kitten

While most Americans are busting out the sunscreen, beach balls and barbeques in anticipation of summer, the ASPCA is preparing for a different kind of season: kitten season.

Sounds adorable, right? Unfortunately, there’s nothing cute about kitten season. It’s the time of year when felines begin to breed, flooding animal shelters across the country with homeless and newborn cats. It is a tremendous population explosion, and this year we’re expecting thousands of kittens to cross the threshold of the ASPCA Animal Hospital—all requiring round-the-clock care.

The seasonal influx of kittens is one reason why the ASPCA is opening a new facility near its 92nd Street Adoption Center in New York City. This brand new kitten ward will include a high-volume nursery for neonates and kittens to provide life-saving care for felines too young to thrive on their own.

 “We’re doing the mama’s job,” explains David Arias, an Animal Care Technician and regular caregiver to neonatal kittens at the ASPCA Animal Hospital. He gently pushes a syringe full of kitten milk replacer (KMR) into the wailing but eager mouth of a five-day-old neonate named Catsup, who drinks up as fast as his tiny throat can swallow. Catsup was No. 2 in a group of four baby kittens—including Mustard, Relish and Sauerkraut—dropped off at the AAH in their first days of life.

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But these four “condiment kitties” are just the start. The ASPCA will also be taking thousands of neonates from NYC’s Animal Care & Control (AC&C), where the annual influx of 4,500 kittens often overwhelms an already overpopulated system.  AC&C’s kittens will be transferred to the ASPCA nursery for treatment until they’re old enough to be weaned, spayed/neutered, and put up for adoption.

ASPCA Animal Care Tech feeding kitten

And because neonates must be fed every two hours, the ASPCA is providing special training to volunteers to help with this vigorous schedule.  “We keep track of how many milliliters each kitten consumes and stay consistent with that baseline amount until they want more,” says David.

His voice trails off when he sees that Catsup is getting feisty and wants more. He replaces the near-empty syringe with a full one. After 20 minutes, Catsup’s tiny belly expands. Before putting the 8-oz. ball of fur back in his cage, David applies a wet, warm gauze to Catsup’s rear end to encourage a defecation and urination—something a mama cat would normally do by licking her young.

Catsup complies. Then, eyes still closed and back in his cage, he clumsily searches for his siblings until he finds them, snuggles up, and goes to sleep. Two hours later, he’ll be hungry again.

The ASPCA is working tirelessly to save thousands of lives this kitten season. It is an urgent time of need, and even a little gift can help a lot of cats. Please consider making a donation to the ASPCA today.

ASPCA volunteers caring for kitten

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Thank you so much every one who is helping to save these babies. I love cats, and it is so kind that someone in the cruel world is making a difference. These kittens deserve a chance, and I am so glad that the ASPCA is helping these tiny kittens who still need their mama. Thank you for acting as mother to these precious creatures. You are making a huge difference. Keep up the great work!

Paula, too

Folks, Please spay and neuter your cats, especially if the ever go outside. Also, they will be happier as inside cats if spayed. If it is a feral cat and you aren't equipped with a catch cage, please call a cat rescue organization to help. I so appreciate the ASPCA.


g-d bless all of those who are working so hard to save these kitties!

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What's with all the cover up on them?? That makes no sense....


feeding kittens is messy.


It is HARD work. Trust me, I know. Have been there several times. The best thing is to find a wet nurse. My dog even raised one of our litters when the mom was too sick to nurse her babies. Truly a blessing from above.


Reality- What is it really? It is when Feral Cats should be put down as well as their kittens. I know it sounds cruel but with all this money that is being spent on this project maybe the SPCA should find a way to use the resources in helping the homeless mothers who have children and can't be fed. We live in a society where organizations are not taking care of serious problems. This is not being inhumane but being caring for those women and children who are in great need of help.


Yes, it doesn't just sound cruel, it IS cruel.


Anna St. Francis of Assisi said those who have no compassion for animals can never truly have compassion for their fellow man; for when you cannot show mercy to the most helpless among us, you cannot answer the call to mercy. It is probable your time is spent in service of neither homeless women and children nor homeless animals. Open your heart.


Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway: Animals are at the complete mercy of human beings. Humans, on the other hand, are responsible for their own choices and decisions and children. If you get pregnant and have children you cannot clothe, feed or house -- and you are relying on an organization or the gov. to take care of you -- don't blame the ASPCA. It's called personal responsibility -- and, by the way, there are lots of organizations that care for the homeless.