Shelter’s “Kitty Bjorn” Gives Feral Cats Much Needed Comfort
Babywearing is the thing to do if you are a mom. Toting that tot around all snuggled up helps moms bond with the baby, and allows them to have controlled socialization. Which is exactly what some staff at the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) thought would benefit feral kittens they came upon and rescued regularly.
According to Michael DeFina, who is the communications and media relations officer with ARL Boston, a carrier would allow feral kittens to be socialized and introduced to tons of different stimuli to prepare them for loving homes, but in a safe way that would also allow volunteers to be hands-free and do other volunteer work like answering phones and talking with clients.
So, ten years ago, when staffers were talking about the needs of the kittens with a seamstress who also volunteered with the shelter, the “Kitten Bjorn” was created! If feral kittens are rescued young enough, around four months or younger, they can often be socialized enough to be loving and friendly family pets, but they need the constant exposure to various people that the Kitten Bjorn gives. That constant exposure is a process, and the Kitten Bjorn helps make it one that helps build personal connections with the kittens but doesn’t prevent the staff from doing what needs to be done.
The vest works just the way the popular BabyBjorn carrier works. It has a little mesh pocket on the front to carry the kittens all cozy like, and they basically go wherever their ‘wearer’ goes and are exposed to whatever their wearer is. This is invaluable exposure for the feral babies and builds security that prepares them for their future home exposures.
The League has found tremendous success in the past seven years that it has used the vests, and wants to have more made because it makes the feral kitten socialization process so much easier. Feral kittens are now ready for adoption in as few as 48 hours after rescue because of the constant stimuli they are exposed to, and it’s easy to tell success because the kittens will purr.
DeFina says that sometimes kittens purr after even just an hour of being carried around, though sometimes it may take a couple of days. Either way, the vests have cut the socialization process considerably and receives rave reviews from all the ‘carriers’ at the League because they help make more space to save another animal for rescue and adoption even as they are fun to wear.
And seriously…who can resist a cute kitteh in a carrier?? Not us!
More by Lori Ennis