Kittens should never be purposefully removed from a healthy mother cat who is feeding and caring for them...even if she is feral! Removing them from their mother significantly increases their chances of death.
We get a lot of questions about bottle feeding kittens. One of our volunteers put together a basic set of instructions. There is a lot of information online. We recommend you watch videos on You Tube.
TLC started a kitten nursery in 2018 based upon an Austin program. We had intended to reopen the nursery in 2019, but could not due to some internal personnel issues. Covid 19 prevented us from moving forward in 2020. After reviewing the program, we have decided to go forward with it in 2021, but with a different approach. The kitten nursery has officially been rebooted!
The cost per kitten was much too high by running the program in house 21 hours per day. We simply could not staff enough volunteers to keep the nursery operational. This resulted in an enormous payroll and the cost per kitten was too high to be considered a viable program. We cannot justify to donors spending on one kitten the money that could save 15 cats and kittens. In addition, the disease control was very difficult to maintain. People cannot resist kissing and loving on the kittens which resulted in the deaths of over 50 kittens in 2018.
Bottle feeders will work from home.
Bottle feeders will be required to attend a training class prior to being allowed to bring kittens home.
We will provide all equipment and supplies.
Feeders will be allowed up to 6 kittens at a time.
Feeders will not be allowed to foster for any other organization if bottle feeding for TLC.
Feeders must agree to keep the foster kittens away from all other animals and must maintain TLC’s cleaning protocols.
We are specifically looking for individuals who work from home, are retired, or work part time. If feeder has a full time job outside of the home, he/she will be required to provide a letter from their employer that he/she is allowed to have kittens at work.
Feeders will be paid $20 per kitten for each week of bottle feeding up to $100. Payment will be made when the kittens are returned to TLC alive. TLC will not pay feeders for kittens who die in their care. Kittens should be eating on their own by 6 weeks of age. TLC will only pay for feeding up to 6 weeks of age.
Bottle feeder kittens are considered high risk and often times do die. TLC does not pay for emergency room care. Feeders will be trained on emergency protocols, but any veterinary care must take place at a TLC clinic or at the expense of the feeder.
Feeders will be considered contract labor. They are not employees of TLC.
Once the kittens are eating on their own, they will be returned to TLC, vaccinated and placed in a second unpaid foster home until they weigh 2 pounds and can go up for adoption.
TLC will be pulling neonatal kittens from the Montgomery County Animal Shelter, the City of Humble Animal Control and BARC as space is available. The shelters will be prioritized in that order.
Any participating shelters will have to be on board with the entire program which includes community education. They will be required to post “Don’t Kit-nap Kittens” promotional materials in plain site at the shelter. Animal control and shelter employees must encourage residents trying to surrender bottle babies to return them to the mom cat and then we will help trap the mother once the kittens are big enough to eat on their own. We will be putting door hangers in neighborhoods with high neonatal kitten turn in rates and we will be working with trappers to concentrate TNR efforts within these communities. The shelters also must maintain TLC’s intake protocols.
The new program will be worked in phases. We do not have a timeline for this program at this time. It will all depend upon the number of feeders, experience levels, and supply donations.
Phase 1: During Phase 1, we will only be taking healthy kittens with their eyes open.
Phase 2: As we develop the training and identifying more experienced feeders, we will take in younger kittens.