PEI Humane Society in need of foster homes for neonatal kittens

The P.E.I. Humane Society is looking for more volunteers to take part in their neonatal kitten foster-care program.

The shelter currently has one foster home for neonatal kittens

Chayleigh Arsenault bottle feeds a neonatal kitten as part of the PEI Humane Society's foster-care program. The program is currently looking for more foster homes for the kittens. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

The PEI Humane Society is looking for more volunteers to take part in their neonatal kitten foster-care program.

The program is currently run by​ Chayleigh Arsenault, who's been fostering neonatal kittens in her home since she graduated high school three years ago, and is the only member of the program.

A neonatal kitten is considered any kitten younger than four weeks old who can't feed themselves.

"It's pretty much the same as a newborn human baby," Arsenault said. "They have to be fed throughout the night, every three to four hour feedings."

Almost 40 neonatal kittens this year so far

Jennifer Harkness, development manager at the PEI Humane Society, said the shelter has seen an increase in neonatal kittens this year.

The kittens need to be bottle fed every three hours or so until they're about five weeks old. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

So far, they've received almost 40 neonatal kittens, compared to nine last year. While some of those kittens can be looked after by nursing cats at the shelter, the rest falls onto Arsenault.

"Most of our staff do foster but they also don't do the neonatal care because it is so much time and not everybody has the capacity to do that," Harkness said.

This neonatal kitten is only a few weeks old, but has a healthy appetite according to Arsenault. Here, she helps burp the kitten after his afternoon meal. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

Harkness said she also wants people to be careful before handing a neonatal kitten into the shelter, and to make sure the mother is no longer in the picture before intervening.

"Just do your due diligence and look for the mom. Wait for a little bit to see if she comes back."

'The most rewarding thing I've ever done'

Arsenault acknowledges that it's not a job for everyone with having to provide around-the-clock care. The kittens are prone to sickness and are often too young to use the bathroom by themselves.

Chayleigh Arsenault says she's currently the only one fostering neonatal kittens at the PEI Humane Society. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"You actually have to stimulate them and help them go to the bathroom, so it's a lot of work involved but it's very very rewarding."

But Arsenault said she's worked out a routine, and loves helping the kittens grow into healthy cats.

A neonatal kitten is kept warm in a blanket at the PEI Humane Society. According to the society's development manager Jennifer Harkness, the shelter has received almost 40 neonatal kittens so far this year. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done and it makes it really special, and you create a really special bond with those animals."

More P.E.I. news


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.