Local bottle drive helps save vulnerable kittens

Three newborn kittens are seen against a white background.
Three newborn kittens. Photo courtesy of Ottawa Kitten Rescue.

By Alvin Tsang

Kitten season has brought a wave of pregnant cats to Kitchissippi and an organization is working to help the animals.

Shannon McDonald, 38, a volunteer for the Ottawa Kitten Rescue, organized a bottle-drive program that raised $125 this month in Westboro.

“A lot of people aren’t the most responsible pet owners,” McDonald said. “It’s common for people to get a free kitten from someone they know, and these new owners don’t get the cats properly neutered. They let their cats out; the cats get pregnant; the owners leave them. It’s really common for people to essentially kick their cats out for getting pregnant.”

A black and white kitten is being bottle-fed while it is wrapped in a pink blanket
A newborn kitten needs to be bottle-fed every two hours. Photo courtesy of Ottawa Kitten Rescue.

The Ottawa Kitten Rescue was founded by Jasmine Bencke, 33, and Abigail Gordon, 24, on May 15, 2020. To date, they have helped exactly 310 cats. At the time of publication, there are currently 64 cats in their care.

The organization is dedicated towards helping injured and homeless cats find new homes. That means pairing up displaced and vulnerable kittens with new litters, pairing up mother cats with new foster homes, adoptions and more. It’s a network of fosters, volunteers, safe havens and people who feel strongly about ensuring the well-being and health of cats.

McDonald focused her efforts in pushing for volunteers and community involvement in the bottle-drive program so that the money raised can go towards helping vulnerable kittens.

“Most recently, we helped a mother cat named ‘Tulip,’” McDonald said. “Tulip was in foster care. She went into labour and was experiencing distress and having complications, so the team rushed her to the vet.”

The vet decided to perform a C-section. Out of the whole litter of four or five, only one kitten survived.

Tulip was spayed on the operation table, and is now back in foster care where her health is being looked after. The surviving baby is now being cared for around the clock, tube-fed every two hours.

A hand holds up a toothbrush next to a sleeping newborn kitten on a white blanket
A newborn kitten in Ottawa. Photo courtesy of Ottawa Kitten Rescue.

“The bottle drive is a way that we can pool our resources,” McDonald said. “It makes the rescues possible.”

Ottawa Kitten Rescue was founded because there are occasionally newborn kittens that require around-the-clock care. Rescues don’t typically take them on, and, in many cases, vulnerable kittens end up euthanized.

“There’s a network and partnership between all the rescues in Ottawa,” McDonald said. “They’ll call us so we can take care of the really vulnerable kittens.”

The Ottawa Kitten Rescue’s next bottle drive was planned for May 12 but has been postponed due to the new COVID-19 restrictions.

“We are still looking for new volunteers and spaces!” McDonald said. “We currently only have one drop-off point in Kitchissippi, and we want more — a couple more garages, hopefully.”

For more information, please visit emptiesforpaws.com 

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