While a feral kitten is saved when he is young enough, it is quite feasible to socialize him and convert him into a wonderful family companion. However, because it can take some time, one shelter devised a method to make the procedure more faster and more enjoyable.
Staff at the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) were talking about feral cats with a volunteer who was a skilled seamstress ten years ago. Feral kittens 4 months and younger can be socialized into pleasant, loving family members, but they require a lot of human contact, which can take a lot of time that shelter personnel may not have.
A Babybjörn is a form of baby carrier that allows a mom to carry her infant about strapped to her body, and a Kitten Bjorn is similar. It’s simply a vest that staff and volunteers may wear with a little mesh pouch on the front for kittens to sit in while the person carrying them goes about their regular tasks.
“The goal was to have something that would allow the kittens to mingle while keeping their hands free, allowing staff and volunteers to multi-task (answering phones, conversing with customers, etc.),” Michael DeFina, communications and media relations officer at ARL Boston, told The Dodo. “The design allows the kitten to be inundated with stimuli in a safe and controlled manner while being continually observed by whoever is wearing the vest.” We’ve made three so far, and we’re hoping to make more.
ARL has been wearing the vests for the past seven years and want to create more so that it can continue to do so in the future. The process of socializing feral kittens has gone so much faster since ARL started utilizing the vests — so fast, in fact, that feral kittens are now ready for adoption in as little as 48 hours, and sometimes even sooner.
“Turnaround for socializing may be pretty swift, with the kitten purring as a sign of accomplishment,” DeFina added. “Sometimes a kitten may start purring within only an hour, other times it will take a few of days, but they have proven to be useful in trying to fast socialize kittens during the course of their seven-year use.”