Kimberley local Carmen Hintz has found her house to be a little more chaotic of late, after adding four kittens she rescued into the mix along with her two dogs. She’s also realized how expensive four rescue cats can be, and has started raising funds to cover costs and perhaps help others who find themselves in a similar boat.
Hintz has been housesitting at a ranch just outside of town. She was out visiting the horses when she realized she couldn’t find her eight-month-old dog Hundy.
“All of a sudden I heard this god-awful crying, barking and I found him and he had gotten himself into the hay bales,” Hintz recalled.
The stack of hay bales was about eight deep and three high. She could see her dog’s eyes, but knew there was no way she could get him out and he was stuck in there crying and barking away.
Finally, after about an hour, he got himself out and she knew he wasn’t injured, or even truly stuck to begin with.
“Within minutes he just shot right back in and did the same thing, so I was like ‘oh man there has to be kittens.’”
Sure enough, that night, somebody found a kitten in the middle of the road and 24 hours later it hadn’t moved. Hintz picked up him and brought him home and then all of a sudden: “Hundy had a new baby.”
Two days later, Hintz suspects the mother cat abandoned two more kittens, who she quickly scooped up as well. She then found three more the next day, but it appeared at that time that the mother was taking care of them, so she just kept an eye on them.
“Then there was a cold night we had a couple weeks ago and we went back and two of them didn’t make it so we scooped up the last one and now we have quadruplets,” she said.
For the past four weeks, Hintz has been bottle-feeding the kittens, who had a combined weight of about 1.5 pounds when she got them.
“We’ve done everything for them, we’ve groomed them, we’ve bottle-fed them, we taught them how to go to the bathroom, it’s been chaos,” she said with a laugh. “My hands will never be the same and neither will my clothes.”
Hintz is raising funds by way of a bottle drive, to help pay for some of the costs associated with raising four kittens from complete infancy.
“Kittens are incredibly expensive to have, it’s actually been nuts,” she explained. “The funds that I’ve popped out for these guys just for bottle feeding and for formula, which has been back ordered from everywhere, we’ve had people bringing formula from Penticton and Calgary and Okotoks, it’s been nuts.”
Factor in the cost of food for four ravenous rescue kittens, their checkups, the vaccines; it adds up quickly.
Hintz decided to do a bottle drive to come up with funds to make sure the kittens are all vaccinated and healthy before they are adopted into loving families.
“I’ve got three confirmed adoptive parents and they will go for just a donation to the SPCA is good for me,” she said, adding any funds left over from the bottle drive will be used to start an orphan kitten starter kit fund at Kimberley Kritters.
She also hopes to work with the SPCA and local vets to see if they can do a fund to help with the securing, spaying and neutering of feral cats in the area.
“These four were fortunate to have a Hundy, but not all of them would be,” Hintz said.
Hundy, Hintz explained, has been very protective of his new litter since they were brought home, playing with them, grooming them and protecting them.
“Hundy doesn’t let any other dog near them,” she said. “He finally let’s [my other dog] Sadie near them, but he’s very cautious about other people coming, so if other people come and we’re bottle feeding or whatever Hundy would be on top of their lap or beside them, he wouldn’t leave the kittens.”
Now you may think that anyone who takes in four tiny kittens into their home that already has two dogs and is in a state of renovation must be a lover of all animals, a St. Francis type perhaps.
However, this is actually Hintz’s first experience with kittens.
“I’ve had two cats in my life and they were both horrible, mean cats,” she said. “So having two-week-old kittens was … I knew nothing, I knew absolutely nothing. This has been the craziest adventure and challenge I’ve ever taken on, but it’s also been pretty rewarding.”
Local business Ciao Bella has been taking bottle donations and seeing if other businesses will help contribute to the cause.
“People have been so supportive and really wanting to donate and help out, so that’s why this has grown into what can we do, what can we do more to help the community that’s helped us and to really just see if we can save some more of these little … whatevers.”
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