Mikki was walking her disabled dog around midnight when she heard the cries of a small kitten coming from a nearby garbage can. Beside the big blue container was a paint bucket, empty but for a litter of tiny kittens that could not have been more than a couple of days old.
“I saw the bucket and there were four of them inside,” she told bazaar. “It was getting cold so I couldn’t leave them. It was also midnight, that’s why I didn’t have time to get them formula or anything. So I had to educate myself from the Internet on what to do.”
Despite being pregnant, caring for a rescue dog that had lost the use of his legs in a car accident and working full time, Mikki took the kittens home. She tried to feed them, but found them delicate and difficult to care for. Her friend realized she was struggling and told her about a workshop held by KareQ8, a local animal rescue group here in Kuwait, on how to feed kittens.
The workshop was hosted by PetZone and given by Dalal Al Rushaid, a member of the Kuwait Animal Rescue Unit (KARU). She arrived with a large box of supplies and a small kennel with more than a half dozen kittens inside. She showed attendees how to mix the formula, gave suggestions on what brand to use and how to properly make an opening in the rubber nipple, and also how to help the kittens to pass the formula.
When she had the milk mixed (one part formula and three parts warm water), she pulled a one-month-old kitten from the carrying case. Al Rushaid held its head up and directed the nipple of the bottle to its mouth. Soon enough the baby cat was hungrily sucking down the formula. Each of the participants took a turn feeding one of the kittens, and at the end of the workshop, all the babies were happily sleeping under the blanket.
Organizers at KareQ8 are often bogged down this time of year with motherless and homeless baby kittens. Cats are seasonal reproducers, and are in heat starting in March, until September. Their pregnancies last about 63 days, and they give birth to litters that have an average of three to five. In the early days of their lives they need to be fed every two to four hours.
“We are only eight girls,” said organizer Yasmeen Al-Haza. “Bottle-feeding newborn orphans is a seasonal task that we find ourselves struggling with. The workshop is to encourage members of society to join our hands and help in any way they can. We hope this workshop creates a base of newborn orphan animal helpers.”
The workshop exemplifies the kind of community outreach the KareQ8 program does. The program was started to find homes for abandoned and stray animals in Kuwait. Their defining characteristic is what they don’t have, a shelter. None of the animals the group rescues is ever put into a cage. Instead the young women take them home themselves or find them a foster home.
“The idea of the group is to push society to move as well as help the animals,” said Al-Haza. “Animals in shelters don’t show their character. When in foster homes they will most likely be of the same character as when they get adopted from a foster home.”
At the workshop, a young lady interested in adopting one of the kittens approached Mona Bash, a volunteer with KareQ8. The young lady seemed excited about the prospect of taking a cute kitten home, but Bash was quick to ask hard questions.
“Let me ask you this,” she said to the father and his daughter. “What happens when you get married? Will you take her with you or will you leave her in the house? How will you keep her in your family?”
According to Al-Haza many of the prospective foster parents don’t realize that adoption is a lifetime commitment, and that the animal can live to be almost twenty years old. However, they have found homes more than 100 cats and over than 80 dogs, who are now all over the world. With a team dedicated to the welfare of these small furry friends, and with your help, the future of cats and dogs in Kuwait is looking much brighter.