Maple Grove Woman Part of Bitty Kitty Brigade
Animal shelters play an important role in our community by helping to give pets a second chance. But they’re not always equipped to handle the needs of the youngest and most vulnerable. That’s where the Bitty Kitty Brigade can help.
Few things in life are more adorable than the presence of kittens. Just ask Sam Jackson.
“I’m constantly sending pictures out and posting stuff,” said Jackson, a volunteer with the Bitty Kitty Brigade.
Cuteness is in abundance at Jackson’s Maple Grove home, with about 20 tiny furry felines scampering around almost every room of her house.
“I like to keep a couple different ages,” Jackson said, who likes the older kittens. “I kind of like to cuddle and snuggle them, but then I also have the bottle babies. So I kind of like to have a little bit of variety.”
Jackson is one of 60 people volunteering to foster these kittens for the Bitty Kitty Brigade, a Twin Cities rescue organization that provides care for orphaned neonatal kittens in ways that big animal shelters cannot.
Bitty Kitty Brigade Fills a Big Need in Twin Cities
“Caring for orphaned neonatal kittens, you do need to be able to feed them and care for them around the clock,” said Joan Barrett, co-founder of the Bitty Kitty Brigade. “So if you do have a full-time job, and a lot of us have full time jobs, you need to be able to work from home.”
Since March, Barrett says the organization has taken in about 170 kittens. Many of the kittens were at risk of dying or being euthanized.
“Yeah, a lot of them wouldn’t make it,” Barrett said. “I mean if they were left outside, orphaned, obviously they’re not gonna make it. Even if they get into an animal control facility, they don’t have staff there 24/7 so they can’t provide care for them there, and that’s when they reach out to rescue organizations.
Every kitten taken in by the Bitty Kitty Brigade is paired with a trained volunteer who can provide the demanding care that’s required.
That’s where Jackson comes in.
She recently took in a litter of kittens that were only 6 days old at the time of our visit.
In addition to keeping those kittens warm with an incubator, she has to bottle feed them with a syringe filled with formula every two hours.
“I think the younger the easier,” Jackson said. “If they’ve been on mom’s milk for a while it can be kind of hard for them. They don’t really like our fake milk as much.”
After feeding time, she rubs their under sides with a baby wipe so they can answer nature’s call.
“They usually yell at you when they’re pottying,” Jackson said.
Bitty Kitty Brigade is Rewarding
While it can be a lot of work, people who are part of the brigade say it’s a worthwhile sacrifice. Not only because of the cuteness factor, but because their work is helping to ensure that these kittens ultimately find a forever home.
“We keep all of them until they’re about 12 weeks old,” Jackson said. “They get spayed, neutered, all of their vaccinations, rabies, microchips, the whole works. And then they get adopted out.”
Not every kitten has a happy ending, but these volunteers know that they’re making a big difference.
“Nothing more therapeutic than a kitten purring,” Barrett said.
The Bitty Kitty Brigade is a nonprofit that relies on donations, so anyone who’s interested in contributing money or supplies can find out more information at https://bittykittybrigade.org/.