July 27, 2018

ASPCA Kitten Nursery Celebrates 1,000th Kitten Resident

a kitten being held

There’s cute, and there’s kitten cute. On Wednesday, the ASPCA Kitten Nursery celebrated the addition of our 1,000th kitten this kitten season, a four-week-old fuzz ball named Nala.  

Nala and his sister, Nina (who came in at number 999), were found in Queens as strays and brought to the ASPCA Animal Hospital by a Good Samaritan when they were just three weeks old.

Dr. Ralph Tran and Nala
Veterinarian Dr. Ralph Tran with Nala in the kitten nursery.

A crowd of nursery staff and volunteers, wearing cat ears and Nala-themed stickers, welcomed Nala at the door with cheers, applause and picture-taking. After being given an exam by nursery veterinarian Dr. Ralph Tran, he was brought back out for more adoration. At just four weeks old, Nala’s already well on his way to social media stardom!

Ruth Allen shows off Nala to nursery staff and volunteers
Ruth Allen, Director of Shelter Services at the ASPCA, shows Nala off to nursery staff and volunteers.

More than 5,000 kittens have made their way through our nursery since it opened in 2014, with an average of 1,500 coming in each season. This year, the Nursery hit the 1,000 mark two months earlier than last year.

“Careful population management was the catalyst of this achievement,” says Ruth Allen, Director of Shelter Services at the ASPCA. She praised the staff and volunteers for their round-the-clock hard work. “You people rock!” she told her team.

ASPCA Kitten Nursery staff and volunteers
ASPCA Kitten Nursery staff and volunteers unveil a cake celebrating Nala.

Ruth says an increase in kitten foster caregivers and ASPCA Relocation team transports of kittens to other shelters have helped create vital room at the nursery to care for greater numbers of kittens.

Gemma Smith, Administrative Manager for the nursery, says that at any given time, nearly 200 kittens are in foster care—twice as many as in 2017. Those kittens stay in foster care until they are old enough to be spayed and neutered and put up for adoption.

Volunteer Marcia Perdue-Charles with caregivers Iris Lugo and Jackelein Matto
From left:  ASPCA volunteer Marcia Perdue-Charles with nursery Caregivers Iris Lugo and Jackelein Matto outside the kitten nursery.

“This season, we had bottle babies in foster care as well as kittens with minor manageable medical needs, which freed up space in the nursery for other kittens needing critical care,” she explains.

To further encourage fostering, the ASPCA will host a cat and kitten foster orientation on August 16 for potential foster caregivers, followed by a bottle babies class. Anyone interested in attending that or future kitten orientations can visit aspca.org/foster.

“We’re always looking to expand our foster pool, especially fosters who are available to bottle-feed kittens every three to five hours,” says Gemma.

“Saving kittens at a faster rate reflects how hard our staff and volunteers are working,” adds Megan Noes, Kitten Nursery Manager. 

a cake celebrating Nala

Nala and Nina are scheduled to go to a foster home and stay there until they are eight weeks old. But well before then, the Kitten Nursery Staff will see kittens 1001, 1002 and beyond. The work is constant and tough, but the sweet nature of these vulnerable kittens turns the job into a joy.

Medical Caregiver Quinn Jacobsen and Volunteer Paula McRae
Quinn Jacobsen, left, a Medical Caregiver, and volunteer Paula McRae take turns holding Nala and her sibling, Nina.

“There’s nothing like the moment you first meet a kitten, and weeks later they are growing and thriving,” says Quinn Jacobsen, who’s in his first season as a Medical Caregiver at the nursery. “You just can’t imagine that feeling until it’s happened to you.”