Crowdfunding Can Save Lives During “Kitten Season”

Innovative and creative fundraising techniques help animal welfare groups give young kittens a chance at life

Who doesn’t love kittens?

They’re small, playful, cuddly, and singularly adorable.

Kittens are even cute when they’re sleeping.

It seems impossible that a kitten could cause dread and anxiety. An influx of kittens? At once? How could it be anything but utterly delightful?

But for people working for animal shelters and rescues, an influx of kittens is an annual disaster.

Cats are seasonal breeders, and every year when the weather turns warmer just before Spring, animal shelters and rescues are flooded with litters of homeless and orphaned infant kittens. People in the field call this “kitten season.” “Kitten season” can be a stressful, emotionally draining, chaotic time in the animal welfare field. As pregnant cats, just-born litters and lone orphaned kittens are brought in each day, animal shelter employees and rescue volunteers wonder anxiously: Where are we going to put all of these kittens? Do we have enough foster homes? Do we have enough money and supplies to care for them? Can we keep them healthy? How are we going to find homes for all of them and all the other cats who need to be adopted?

Young kittens can require bottle-feeding every 2 hours.

Young kittens present unique challenges for animal shelters and rescues: Those who aren’t weaned and don’t have their mother present need constant hands-on care, requiring feedings every two hours and even help going to the bathroom. Because they are young and cannot be adopted until they’re at least 8 weeks old, shelters and rescues must often find room for young kittens for well over a month, stopping the flow of animals through the shelter and making it a challenge to find space for all the animals in need of care.

Unfortunately, in past decades, “kitten season” meant euthanizing kittens who were too young to be adopted because shelters and rescues simply did not have the space or resources to provide care for them.

But that is changing as the field of animal rescue moves forward and finds new, innovative ways to save lives.

Animal shelters and rescue groups work with networks of volunteer “fosters” who provide temporary homes for kittens, caring for them until they’re old enough for adoption. Animal groups have worked hard to provide low-cost and even free spay/neuter services to their communities, and build programs to spay and neuter outdoor cats, with the goal of preventing future generations of homeless kittens who might end up in need of their help during “kitten season.”

Animal shelters and rescues have also gotten smarter about making sure they have the funds available to help kittens during “kitten season,” turning to innovative fundraising techniques to keep funds rolling in when the kittens are rolling into the shelter at a breakneck pace.

Here are a few groups on Razoo fundraising outside of the box and using crowdfunding to save lives this “kitten season.”

Fundraising For Special Cases

San Antonio Pets Alive! (SAPA) is an animal shelter run almost entirely run by volunteers. “We form innovative programs that protect animals that are most vulnerable and at-risk in city shelter, which includes neonatal kittens” SAPA’s Marketing and Events Manager Erika Mullins told me in a phone interview. “We take in about 1,000 kittens every kitten season.”

Kitten season at SAPA kicked off when a homeless man brought in two kittens he found in a trash can. “He was digging through the trash and found the kittens. He recognized signs of life and rushed them in and asked us to save them,” according to Mullins. The kittens were so young that their umbilical cords were still attached, and they were fading fast due to hypothermia. A manager on duty who had experience with infant kittens acted quickly to save them.

Soon after, SAPA created their fundraiser on Razoo to raise funds for these kittens and many others they knew would be in need of their care. “We knew this was just the beginning,” Mullins said. SAPA quickly mobilized their considerable online following (almost 50,000 followers on Facebook) to help provide funds for the kittens’ care and quickly exceeded their fundraising goal of $5,000.

Animal shelters and rescues can follow their lead by fundraising for special cases. Once a nonprofit is set up on Razoo, starting a fundraiser can take a matter of minutes. Acting fast and inspiring your donor base and social media followers to help some of the smallest and most vulnerable animals at your shelter can have a huge impact, as San Antonio Pets Alive’s fundraiser proves!

Crowdfunding A Kitten Nursery

While crowdfunding for individual kittens or litters that come in can be an effective tactic, animal shelters and rescues can also think big and crowdfund long-term solutions that save lives.

The Lynchburg Humane Society in Virginia is using Razoo to raise money for a kitten nursery.

“Orphaned, unweaned kittens need 24 hour care, they need to be bottle fed every few hours, and need other help that their mother would usually provide, so they rely on us to help them in order for them to survive these critical first weeks of life,” they write in their fundraiser. They’ve made a commitment to helping struggling shelters nearby by taking kittens they’re unable to care for, and they’re expanding their foster program to accommodate more kittens.

A SAPA volunteer bottle-feeds one of the kittens found clinging to life in a trash can.

SAPA also utilizes a kitten nursery to help the many, many kittens they care for each kitten season: “We have a clinic that is separate from all of our facilities, and we also treat dogs with issues that require them to be separate from the general shelter population” according to Mullins. Their clinic houses dogs suffering from ailments like mange and Parvo that are highly contagious in addition to kittens too young for adoption. “We do try to get most of the kittens into foster homes but our kitten nursery helps with the overflow.”

Starting a fundraiser on Razoo for a kitten nursery is a great way to save lives this kitten season, and easier than you might think. Best Friends Animal Society has a great overview of how kitten nurseries work, using their own as an example. All that’s required to start a kitten nursery, in most cases, is space, supplies, staff, and medical care. The Lynchburg Humane Society estimates that they’ll need $5,000 to start a kitten nursery and save more lives this kitten season.

Hosting An Online Kitten Shower

Despite their name, Lost Dog Rescue Foundation also helps cats and kittens, and they’re kicking off kitten season with an online kitten shower.

What’s a kitten shower? Well, it’s like a baby shower, except instead of bringing gifts of cute baby clothes, you drop off supplies for animal shelters expecting a lot of kittens. Last kitten season, Lost Dog Rescue Foundation rescued 323 kittens, and this year they’re aiming to help 350. To help them get to their goal of saving 350 lives, they started a fundraiser on Razoo called “We’re Expecting! So. Many. Kittehs.”

Kitten showers work great as in-person events, and an online kitten shower can be a way to expand the reach of your event. While many people will happily show up to drop off kitten supplies, many others would be happier to pull out their credit cards to make a donation to help save kittens during kitten season. For rescue groups that don’t have a brick-and-mortar facility where they can host a kitten shower, hosting the shower online is the most practical and frugal option.

The kittens taken in by San Antonio Pets Alive are doing well, by the way. They’re named Kalypso and Kamala, and they’re getting stronger every day. “They’re not out of the woods yet but they’re eating and doing well,” Mullins told us. “Both kittens are still eating well, purring and the male (Kalypso) has opened his eyes.”

Kalypso (left) and Kamala (right)

The lives of young, vulnerable kittens like Kamala and Kalypso can be saved through a combination of planning, quick-thinking, and creativity. Kittens like them were not likely to make it out of any shelters they were brought to years ago, but now thanks to the commitment of groups like San Antonio Pets Alive!, Lynchburg Humane Society, and Lost Dog Rescue Foundation to finding solutions for these at-risk kittens, they finally have a fighting chance.

Schedule A “Kitten Season” Coaching Session

If you work or volunteer for an animal welfare group that would like help getting through kitten season, you’ve got an ally at Razoo! Before coming to work for Razoo, I spent most of my career in animal welfare and have survived many kitten seasons. I’m happy to help you come up with a fundraising strategy that can help you save more lives this kitten season. Contact me at linda@razoo.com to set up a “kitten season” coaching session!

About Linda Gerhardt

Linda spent most of her career in the nonprofit sector before joining Razoo. She has worked for animal welfare groups large and small, in nearly every position. She specializes in social media strategy, communications, and digital marketing.

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