March 2013 by Ellen Jefferson, DVM and Heidi Beyer, CVT

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Orphaned kittens are the most fragile of homeless animals, and many shelters consider it too resource-intensive to care for them. For that reason, they often make up the largest single group of animals euthanized at many shelters.

That was the case in Austin, TX, until veterinarian Dr. Ellen Jefferson and the team at Austin Pets Alive! put together a comprehensive kitten nursery program based on similar programs for orphaned wildlife. In conjunction with home-based foster care, the nursery program utilized existing resources in new ways, allowing them to save hundreds of kittens' lives and contributing to Austin becoming the largest no-kill city in America.

Please join us for a free webcast from Maddie's Institute with Dr. Jefferson and veterinary technician Heidi Beyer of Dane County Friends of Ferals. Dr. Jefferson will walk you through nursery care and foster-based care, and Heidi will help foster caregivers with practical tips for orphaned kitten care in Orphaned Kittens: How Saving the Tiniest Lives has the Biggest Impact. The recorded version of this webcast has been separated by speaker and is available below.

Information covered will include:

  • Misunderstandings about kittens that lead to mistakes in determining orphaned status.
  • The basics of setting up a nursery program in your community.
  • Recruiting and training volunteers for nursery and foster programs.
  • How to feed and care for orphaned kittens during different life stages.
  • Protecting kittens from infectious diseases.
  • Responding to illness in young kittens.
  • Housing, bedding and environment.

Orphaned Kittens: How Saving the Tiniest Lives has the Biggest Impact is part of an ongoing series of educational programs from Maddie's Institute, a program of Maddie's Fund®, the nation's leading funder of shelter medicine education. Maddie's Institute brings cutting edge shelter medicine information from universities and animal welfare leaders to shelter veterinarians, managers and staff as well as private practice veterinarians, rescue groups and community members to increase the lifesaving of homeless dogs and cats community-wide.

This course has been pre-approved for Certified Animal Welfare Administrator continuing education credits.

After viewing Dr. Jefferson's presentation, click here to take the quiz and receive a Certificate of Attendance!

Dr. Ellen Jefferson's Presentation

After viewing Heidi's presentation, click here to take the quiz and receive a Certificate of Attendance!

Heidi Beyer's Presentation

Bio photo of Dr. Ellen Jefferson smiling in a lab coat holding a kitten

Ellen Jefferson, DVM

Dr. Jefferson graduated from Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in 1997. She joined Austin Pets Alive! (APA) in 2008 and began applying best practices in efficiency and operations to resolve Austin's problem of killing thousands of healthy and treatable pets each year. Within the first year of her leadership, APA reduced the killing of homeless cats and dogs in Austin by more than 20%, with the downward trend continuing.

Dr. Jefferson's experience with EmanciPET, which she founded in 1999 and directed for nine years, had already made her a leader nationally as well as in Austin's animal welfare community. Recently, she has become Interim Executive Director of San Antonio Pets Alive (in addition to APA), where she is working to set up the programs needed to make San Antonio a no-kill city. Photo courtesy of Community Impact Newspaper; Sarah Kerver photographer.

Heidi Beyer, CVT

Heidi Beyer received her Veterinary Technician license from Canton College in New York in 1984. She served 6 years on the Board of Directors for Dane County Friends of Ferals. Working closely with local feline rescues has given Heidi the opportunity to help hundreds of kittens.

With 29 years as a practicing technician, and nearly 20 years of experience caring for orphaned kittens, Heidi has the passion and commitment to help these vulnerable babies. Her expertise is fostering neonates, some just hours old, and raising them through to the socialization period (8 weeks of age).

Heidi lives in Mount Horeb, WI, with her husband, Chuck, 3 dogs, 5 cats and varying numbers of foster kittens and cats.