Kittens. Yeah, again.
The "official" kitten nursery has closed. That means that everyone who signed up for the summer is off the hook and doesn't need to come in anymore. That's because we had a lot of high school students getting their volunteer credits. They're back in school and now it's just us old folk. The nursery is still up and running. Last year it was open until the first week of October. This year it looks to end mid-September. We saved over 80 kittens last year and we're aiming for more this time around.
Fewer volunteers means more work, but I don't mind. Actually those of the die-hards still working the nursery are the best. Experienced, reliable, fun. Our shift with four people today ran smoother than previous shifts with 7, of whom several were useless. We still have a full house with all kennels full, at the moment we have 22 kittens in residence.
Here's the deal. For each litter we mix up a batch of food, customized for each group. Some get solid kitten food. Some get a mix of KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement) and food. We weigh each kitty and, for the smaller ones, syringe feed them. At least 12ccs per kitty, which is sometimes quite a chore.
We clean their cages, socialize them (that's the best part) and report any signs of illnesses. Between each litter we bleach the scales and tables and make sure everything is clean so as not to cross-contaminate. Then it's on to the next one. The average litter of 4 takes about 40 minutes, so with 7 litters it can take some time. And it always takes longer than you think because you want to spend more time with each litter. And usually they don't want to go back, which makes it harder to end the visit.
The thing I love about the lunch shift, though, is how the kittens react. Usually I'm the first one there and when I walk in they wake up. There's a chorus of curious and hungry meows. But after two and a half hours of lunch, play, and cuddling they're all fast asleep again by the time I leave. There's a deliciously comforting silence about piles of sleeping, happy kittens. And every day it's harder to leave without smuggling one of these little guys home.