rescuing locally, educating globally
At TinyKittens, our purpose is to change global perceptions about feral cats. We want to show that every life has value, and we often prove that by taking on the really hard cases that wouldn't be given a chance anywhere else. We are driven to fulfil our purpose by developing new programs with an impact that radiates far beyond our daily rescue activities:
We believe that in order to address cat overpopulation more effectively, we need to change global perceptions about feral and community cats.
We are doing that by taking on the really tough cases, and telling their stories on social media and on our livestream. This creates emotional connections between everyday people and feral cats, which generates an increase in compassion and empathy.
Creating these connections is absolutely essential if we want to end cat overpopulation. Greater compassion brings more volunteers, donors, adopters, advocates and resources to humane Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and rescue programs, which are perpetually struggling to keep up.
Our cats' videos have been viewed millions of times, and almost 100,000,000 minutes of our livestreams are viewed each month.
Fostering Pregnant Feral Cats
As part of our Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) efforts, we have encountered many heavily pregnant feral cats. Traditionally, there are three options for pregnant ferals:
- Spay them and abort the babies
- Wait to trap until babies are born and weaned, then try to trap mom + babies
- Trap while pregnant and foster until babies can be weaned and socialized
Conventional TNR wisdom has long held that in order to allocate very limited resources most effectively, we must come to terms with spaying pregnant females and write off any kittens. We want to see if there is a way to make fostering a more viable alternative. There is no information available on how to go about fostering a pregnant feral cat, and those who have tried have had low to moderate success rates because of the very significant risks. We are documenting our experiences and case studies as we go, and have been 100% successful so far.
Caring for Sick, Injured and Terminally Ill Feral Cats
We are always looking for ways to care more compassionately for the cats we bring in, particularly our feral cats. When we first started working with ferals, everything we read led us to believe it was not possible to give meds, change bandages, or handle an injured feral outside of the TNR process where cats are sedated and kept in traps.
If a feral cat is injured and requires care and a recovery period, the accepted course of action is to euthanize. This is done because we as animal rescuers have a moral obligation to prevent suffering, and if we released the cat without proper follow-up care it would be likely to suffer. In this scenario, euthanasia is indeed the kindest option for the cat.
When we got our first call about a feral cat with crushed and infected paws, we knew if we could help her recover she would be able to lead a perfectly normal, happy life. We knew we had to try.
So far, every injured feral we've brought in has been treated successfully, and either returned or adopted! We've been able to administer pain meds, check incisions, change bandages, remove sutures, evaluate their individual purrsonalities, and make confident decisions about who will be happiest being returned to their friends and family at the feral colony and who wants to trade their feral life for life as someone's pampered companion-for-life.
Feral Cat Recovery Ward
We are always looking for ways to care more compassionately for the cats we bring in, particularly our feral cats. One of the many difficult aspects of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is having to keep cats in traps up to three days to recover from their spay/neuter surgeries. This is very stressful for them, which almost always results in them not eating or drinking until they are released. For a non-feral cat, we are able to give pain meds for 2-3 days following surgery and we keep them in a low-stress, clean, comfortable, cage-free environment where we can monitor their recovery. With feral cats, this was considered impossible... until we decided to try it.
The goal of our Feral Recovery Ward is to allow feral cats to have an extra week or two to recover from their spays in a low-stress, cage-free environment. We would have never thought this was possible, and what we've discovered so far has shocked us. So far, they have done even better than we had dared to hope! We've been able to administer pain meds, check spay incisions, evaluate their individual purrsonalities, and make confident decisions about who will be happiest being returned to their friends and family at the feral colony and who wants to trade their feral life for life as someone's pampered companion-for-life.
TinyKittens in the Classroom
Led by Lynda Tyler, an amazing teacher at Holly Elementary in Delta BC (and one of our awesome volunteer board members), we are working on a TinyKittens curriculum that will use our livestream of rescue cats and kittens to teach kids critical skills like leadership, compassion, writing, creativity, cooperation, the power of social media and so much more. Super exciting! Read this article and see an example of our students' work.
Livestreaming Everything We Do
We are providing a window into the world of animal rescue by livestreaming our cats and kittens from their arrival to the time they are adopted. In addition to daily activities and conversations, we often do special broadcasts with our amazing vet, Mountain View Veterinary Hospital, to demonstrate various aspects of responsible pet care and answer viewer questions. We also broadcast surgeries and other procedures to help educate viewers about going to the vet and the benefits of spaying and neutering.
How did TinyKittens come about?
TinyKittens started broadcasting our foster kittens 24/7 in March of 2013. As our audience grew, so did our desire to make an even bigger difference. In March 2015, TinyKittens became a registered non-profit society in order to develop cutting-edge cat welfare programs that would have an impact far beyond the cats and kittens we rescue.
TinyKittens HQ is located in Fort Langley, BC, and is operated by Shelly Roche. Here are a few reasons we broadcast our lives for the world to see:
- To give parents who want their kids to experience "the miracle of birth" an alternative to letting their own cats have kittens.
- To provide a window into what happens behind the scenes after a cat is rescued, and before they are adopted.
- To raise awareness about the importance of spaying and neutering, and where to go if you need assistance.
- To encourage people to become fosters or volunteers at their local shelter.
- To tell some of the extraordinary stories of cats and kittens that would otherwise never be heard.
- To prove every life has value, no matter how old, "broken", "different" or misunderstood.
Shelly is a computer programmer who has spoken at conferences internationally about tech and social media. Zuck used one of her facebook apps for his keynote presentation at Facebook F8. She has loved animals her whole life, and is delighted to be able to use technology to reach a global audience with TinyKittens' message about the value of cats.
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TinyKittens Society is a non-profit society registered in British Columbia, Canada.