Last week, I had a chance to attend the grand opening of the first neonatal kitten nursery in the Washington DC area. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington opened its Kitten Academy to help kittens that are less than three weeks old, an age when a kitten is the most vulnerable. Orphaned kittens in shelters have to overcome exposure to disease a well as the lack of a nursing mother, and because most shelters are stretched the limit with resources in general, these kittens are often euthanized without getting a chance. The AWL wants to not only help the kittens coming into their shelter, they also want to educate the public about the plight of these babies and how they can be helped. Mai Tai in the AWL's new incubator The Kitten Academy program operates with dedicated volunteers. The shelter's goal is to get the kittens into foster homes who have experience caring for neonatal kittens as quickly as possible after they are taken into the nursery. The League regularly hosts Kitten Care Workshops to train those interested in learning how to bottle feed and care for orphaned kittens. The League's long term goal is to have dedicated staff to care for the kittens onsite. Currently, volunteers stop in several times overnight to feed these bottle babies until they can go to foster homes. How cute is this cake! The Kitten Academy was made possible thanks to a donation of $25,000 from Falls Church residents Ted and Willa Lutz. Mrs. Lutz is a longtime volunteer at the shelter. Of course, I had to get in on the name suggestions! For more information about the Kitten Academy, please visit http://www.awla.org.