Save the kittens, Save Them All

By Francis Battista

Who doesn’t love kittens? These cute little fluff balls seem to dominate social media these days because — let’s be honest — they’re downright adorable. Unfortunately, they are among the animals most likely to die in shelters around the country, either from disease in the harsh shelter environment or from a lack of the resources needed to get them through the critical first weeks of life.

Last year in Los Angeles, 61 percent of the animals killed in the shelter system were kittens. Even California’s often-touted Hayden Law still allows shelter pets under eight weeks old to be killed because they are deemed “unadoptable.”

The nine-month “kitten season” (February to November) is a major burden on shelters. Unlike other animals entering the system, kittens require such specialized, around-the-clock care that it’s difficult for many communities to commit the resources necessary to save them. Far too many communities kill kittens upon intake because they cannot offer this type of care. We’ve established kitten nurseries in L.A. and Salt Lake City as a critical piece of the puzzle to saving lives in these two communities.

The kitten nursery concept is simple — one that we’ve written about before. The primary goal is to try to keep the kittens out of the shelter, which keeps them safe from disease. These fragile little animals are so susceptible to illness that keeping them out of the shelter entirely gives them the best chance at life. Once they’re in the nursery, a large, incredibly dedicated team of volunteers and staff do everything they can to help the kittens live. The youngest need to be fed every two hours. So this veritable army of animal lovers has to keep watch 24/7 throughout kitten season. But the results are clear: Thousands of kittens who would have died are saved.

The sad irony here is that as soon as kittens are through that early stage of life, they are probably the most adoptable of all shelter pets — cute, playful, affectionate and litter-box-trained.

In 2014, Best Friends–Los Angeles brought 2,026 kittens through our Mission Hills kitten nursery. This year, we are on track to bring 2,150 kittens through that same nursery ― an incredible number, thanks to the dedication of the dozens of volunteers who work tirelessly every week, nurturing these fragile lives through infancy. It is a labor of love that is scalable to save even more lives, and that is exactly what we intend to do. Allowing these beautiful little creatures to fall through the cracks of the system is unconscionable.

So, we’ve run the numbers, and we know that in order to end this pointless killing and make L.A. a no-kill city, we need to give another 4,400 kittens a fair chance at life.

Our citywide initiative to take Los Angeles to no-kill has been smashing goals since its launch in 2012. Thanks to an engaged, hardworking coalition of more than 90 organizations, the number of animals killed in the city’s shelters is down 56 percent. Reaching our goal of taking Los Angeles no-kill will arguably be the biggest moment in the no-kill movement’s history. Bringing this massive city of more than 500 square miles to no-kill would show the world that no-kill is possible anywhere. However, the biggest challenge continues to be the massive influx of kittens into the system.

To save those additional 4,400 kittens to take L.A. to no-kill, Best Friends plans to open another kitten nursery to help reach this ambitious, but achievable goal.

Best Friends and our NKLA Coalition partners will do the work, recruit the volunteers and see these kittens through to life in loving new homes, but we need your support to help make it happen and show communities everywhere what is possible.

Please consider a donation today to help save the lives of kittens. If you donate right now, you can help us by providing a name for a homeless kitten. Naming thousands of kittens is even harder than it sounds! Click here to give to this critical, lifesaving effort.

Thanks to your support, we will Save Them All in Los Angeles, and across the country.


Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society