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PSH-SPCA Kitten Nursery Celebrates 10 Years

Kitty Corner

Ten years ago the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA opened our on-site Kitten Nursery to give under-aged, motherless, and abandoned kittens a second chance at life. In those 10 years, our shelter has become the safe refuge for more than 1,500 itty-bitty kittens who charm everyone with their little meows.

These fragile kittens are too young to be adopted and too helpless to survive on their own. They need more extensive care and attention, and many shelters do not have the ability to provide for their needs. We wanted to do everything we could to help the survival rate of these kittens, thus the PSH/SPCA Kitten Nursery was born.

On the second floor of our Center for Compassion in Burlingame, our Kitten Nursery has served as a lifeline for under-aged kittens. They arrive weeks old, sometimes even hours old, and all need the assistance of our staff and volunteers to help them grow strong and healthy. In the case of the extremely young kittens, since they need round-the-clock care, they are sent into foster homes until they are older and stronger. One of our dedicated foster volunteers just fostered her 700th kitten.

Once each kitten passes health and weight milestones, we spay or neuter them and then place them up for adoption. The standard is that each kitten must reach the weight of 2 pounds and be approximately 2 months old before they are spayed or neutered and made available for adoption. Our Kitten Nursery graduates are highly sought after by adopters since they are accustomed to human handling and are very friendly and cuddly.

Working in three shifts per day, seven days a week, more than 170 volunteers arrive at the PHS/SPCA Kitten Nursery to feed, groom, and socialize the kittens. Many of the kittens are so tiny they are not able to eat on their own, so they are syringe-fed a mixture of canned kitten food and KMR, a mother’s milk replacement. The volunteers teach the kittens how to use the litter box, and give them plenty of activity time to burn off some of that kitten energy.

We not only accept kittens from San Mateo County, we also transfer young kittens from other shelters. Working with animal shelters throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley, we help ease the burden of other shelters overwhelmed by high volumes of motherless under-aged kittens and transport them to our Kitten Nursery.

Like many shelters, this year we experienced a dramatic spike in the number of kittens admitted into our nursery and into our shelter. We’ve graduated 369 kittens from our nursery this year, a much higher amount than other years. As we reflect on the 10 years since we’ve opened our Kitten Nursery, thanks to our devoted volunteers and staff, we’ve saved the lives of 1,536 under-aged kittens over the last 10years and we look forward to continuing our service to these little ones.

The lifesaving work performed through our Kitten Nursery is part of the overall lifesaving work of the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA. The lives of these under-aged kittens are in addition to the more than 6,000 animals we save each year.

For more information about PHS/SPCA’s Kitten Nursery please, visit

Buffy Martin Tarbox is the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA’s communications manager. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and their cat, Vivian.

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Main article photo by: Photos courtesy Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA