It’s often very difficult for a feral animal to be tamed enough to be introduced into a new home. They may have suffered an unimaginable past or they might simply not be used to having humans around to care for them.
Yet if a kitten is feral but is rescued young enough, it’s still completely possible for them to learn to love human attention and enjoy a loving home.
Like anything that’s worth doing however, it can take time.
Thankfully there are people out there like the kind people at the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) that are willing to put in the time and effort into making this a possibility for numerous kittens.
Not only have they discovered a new way of making this process faster, but they’ve made it whole lot more fun too.
One day about seven years ago, staffers at ARL were having a conversation with a volunteer who happened to be a professional seamstress.
They were discussing the fact that feral kittens that are 4 months and younger can be socialised into friendly, loving family members, but they need a lot of exposure to people to get there.
This exposure can take a lot of time, which the busy staffers at ARL didn’t have enough of. They needed a way of completing their daily duties whilst spending quality time with the feral kittens – and that’s where they idea for the “Kitten Bjorn” came from.
Taking inspiration from a babybjorn – a type of baby carrier that allows a parent to carry their child around, strapped to their body – a Kitten Bjorn works in the same way.
The pouch meant that staff and volunteers could go about their day whilst having a little feral kitten sitting comfortably in a mesh pouch on their stomachs.
The feral kittens were able to experience the world around them and be comforted simultaneously.
“The idea was to have something that allow the kittens to socialize, and be hands-free, thus allowing staff and volunteers to multi-task (answering phones, talking with clients etc.),” Michael DeFina, communications and media relations officer at ARL Boston explained.
“The design allows the kitten to be flooded with stimuli in a safe way while being constantly monitored by whoever is wearing the vest. Three were made and we are looking to make more.”
Since ARL started using the pouches seven years ago, the process of socializing feral kittens has gotten so much faster — so fast, in fact, that now feral kittens are ready for adoption in just 48 hours, and sometimes even sooner.
“Turnaround for socialization can be fairly quick, with the sign of success being when the kitten begins to purr,” DeFina said.
“Sometimes a kitten will begin purring after just an hour, sometimes it takes a couple of days, but during the seven years of their use, they have shown to be effective in trying to quickly socialize kittens.”
What a great idea!