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SOUTH BEACH: MISSION VIEJO

Kitten Caboodle in Need of a Little TLC

April 07, 1998|FRANK MESSINA

They come by the box load in this sad rite of spring--newborn kitties or pregnant cats dumped by people who don't want to deal with the litter.

"We find them dumped everywhere, in parking lots in the hot sun, left by our gates," said Sharon Cody, a program coordinator at the Mission Viejo Animal Shelter. "We even found one inside a Coke machine. When people are desperate to dump these little guys, they'll do anything."

To deal with the onslaught of kittens, the shelter has begun training foster kitty parents to care for the newborns until they are old enough for adoption.

The shelter provides the food and equipment, volunteers open their homes to provide the extra attention desperately needed by newborn kittens.

That could include bottle feeding an entire litter or simply providing a warm room and box for a mother about to give birth.

"All we're asking from people is their [tender loving care]," Cody said.

Volunteers raise the kittens for about seven weeks until they are old enough for adoption--if they can part with them.

Peggy Wall said she'll probably hang onto Amy the calico cat and her kittens, who were born in the volunteer's Laguna Niguel home Friday.

"She had them at night," Wall said. "In the morning I looked in there and I couldn't believe my eyes--three little babies. I was delighted."

About 20 people are involved in the foster program, but Cody says more volunteers will be needed soon.

"One day we'll have eight cats in the shelter, a couple weeks later there'll be 50 cats and kittens," Cody said. "It's like an explosion, and it's beginning now. That's why we work really hard to find enough families to help us out."

For information about the shelter's foster kitten care program, call (714) 470-3045.

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