The felines were just days old when they were found in a cardboard box
Five ravenous kittens that were dumped without their mother in Gateshead are being hand reared by an RSPCA inspector.
The little mites, who were abandoned in a cardboard box when they were just four or five days old, are now in the expert hands of inspector Rachael Hurst.
Rachael is sharing their care with her partner, Jamie, at their North East home. Jamie fits in the day shift around his work, while Rachael is up every four hours in the night to ensure the kittens get bottle-fed around the clock.
The kittens, four females and one male, have been named Holly, Ivy, Snowball, Sally and Jack by the RSPCA and are thriving despite having been separated from their mother.
The inspector is well suited to her role as she worked as a cattery supervisor at RSPCA Felledge Animal Centre at Chester-le-Street, where the kittens are set to be rehomed from when they are able to fend for themselves.
“They need to be fed and stimulated around the clock, so it is hands-on for both of us at the moment. They are very young and a real handful,” explained Rachael.
“My partner works from home, so that has helped during the day and I look after their night-time care. I make sure they get a feed quite late on, then do a 1am feed and get some sleep before getting up at 5am to do it all again.”
The kittens were found in a soggy cardboard box left in a back alley at Shipcote Terrace in the Bensham district of Gateshead by a member of the public, who came across them at around 7am on September 29.
There was no sign of their mother, so she took them home and contacted the RSPCA.
“They were clean and dry and in good health, but very hungry when I collected them. It was sad to see they had been abandoned as they were only five days old and hadn’t even opened their eyes and were very lucky to survive,” added Rachael.
“I should imagine they will need another two to three weeks of hand rearing. Once they are weaned and eating kitten food they are likely to go to Felledge.
“Quite often we rely on people’s kindness to help out in these situations as cats like this are too young to go to our animal centres. Sometimes in these situations when we take them to the vets there are vet nurses at the practices who like doing it.
“But we’re both happy to help, although they are keeping us busy. They are lovely and I should imagine there will be plenty of colleagues ready to take their turn when I go into Felledge for our inspectors’ monthly meeting.”
Anyone who might have any knowledge of a litter of kittens that was being kept in the locality in the last week of September is asked to contact the RSPCA appeals line on 0300 123 8018. There may be other kittens in the litter and the charity would like to make a welfare check on the mother.
The RSPCA always advises people who may be struggling financially to look after their pets to seek out support from one of the many reputable animal welfare charities who can offer help and advice. You can find information on the RSPCA’s website.
The charity also recommends owners get their cats neutered to prevent any unwanted litters.
The RSPCA is braced for an increase in abandonments of pets as the cost of living crisis bites and has also launched an online Cost of Living Hub with money saving tips and advice for anyone who is finding times hard.
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.