Best Friends Kitten Nursery and foster homes helping baby kittens

The littlest baby kittens who are at risk are being saved by Best Friends Kitten Nursery foster program in Salt Lake City, Utah.
By Denise LeBeau

Harry the baby kitten insisted the proper way to eat his wet food was to swim in it. With his long hair always encrusted in his latest meal, he looked a bit like a crunchy punk rocker. For the tiny kitten with the wild child hairdo, life in the beginning was touch and go. He was rescued with other members of his litter, all of them afflicted with feline panleukopenia, an often-deadly disease. Thanks to the Best Friends Kitten Nursery’s foster program, this littlest survivor got the TLC he desperately needed. Harry is just one of the approximately 1,200 kittens the Salt Lake City, Utah, facility is on track to save this year.

Fostering baby kittens in need

Elsa and Rugen the kittensLizel Allen fostered Harry and his litter mates because she wanted to give other cats like hers a chance for a wonderful life. Her cats were abandoned as unweaned kittens by their mother, then found by one of Lizel’s co-workers, who took them home and bottle-fed them. When they were ready for adoption, Lizel took in the then three-week-old kittens. That was seven years ago. Last year, she started volunteering at the nursery, but with a full-time job, didn’t think she was home long enough during the day to have foster kittens. She decided to ask the Best Friends foster coordinator if there was any way she could foster with her current schedule. Receiving a resounding “yes,” Lizel was immediately on-board to care for kittens old enough to eat on their own.

“I get to snuggle the kittens without all the gowns and gloves required (for disease prevention) in the nursery,” says Lizel. “I also get to know their quirky little personalities. Kittens have so much energy and watching them wrestle each other or learn to pounce is so entertaining.”

The foster experience is also great for Lizel’s relationship with her fiancé. Instead of getting home from work and sitting in front of the television or doing chores, they get to play with kittens.

Kitten fostering

For Jessica Fogg, a lifelong animal lover, seeing kittens in need on Facebook was enough to inspire her to give fostering a try. She wanted to give kittens a place to run and explore. She loves watching them develop and romp around and also appreciates what it teaches her kids. “Kitten fostering gave me a great chance to teach my four kids about how important it is to help out,” says Jessica.

Her favorite kitten so far is Elsa, who Jessica says has the sweetest personality. When Elsa was grown up enough to go to the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center so she could find a home, it was a bit hard for Jessica to see her go. But when she went back for supplies a few weeks later for another foster litter, she was happy to see Elsa had been adopted.

Harry the kitten who recovered from feline panleukopenia with ihs adoptive familySpecial support for kitten foster families

Best Friends provides all the supplies a foster family needs along with access to free veterinary care. Staff members are always available to answer questions and address concerns. No question is too odd, and the staff is used to dealing with babies and everything that goes along with that. “The foster coordinator didn't think it was weird when I emailed them a picture of kitten poop,” Jessica says.

“Our foster families are the lifeblood of the kitten nursery,” says Tiffany Deaton, Best Friends operations assistant. “They allow us to save more kittens and give their foster kittens the care and socialization they need to find loving forever homes.”

As for Harry, Lizel says he is tickled with his forever home: “He looks so comfortable, it seems to me that he chose his forever home, just as much as they chose him. We are so happy for him.”

Get involved to help kittens

Learn more about the Best Friends Kitten Nursery.

Photos by Lizel Allen, Jessica Fogg, and  courtesy Best Friends Animal Society-Utah