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Voices of Arizona: Teresa the kitten feeder at the Arizona Humane Society

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Monday, May 8, 2023 - 8:43am
Updated: Monday, May 8, 2023 - 11:22am

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KJZZ brings you news from throughout the state. The most important stories impact everyday Arizonans. Voices of Arizona brings you the real people behind the headlines.

Teresa Johnson feeding a kitten
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
Teresa Johnson is a volunteer who feeds kittens at the Arizona Humane Society. KJZZ's Kathy Ritchie interviews Johnson on May 2, 2023.

It’s kitten season in the Valley, and it means a steady flow of teeny, tiny babies being dropped off at the Arizona Humane Society.

"And based off of his weight, you want to feed 5% of his body weight, so he's going to need about 10 grams," said Teresa Johnson. She is a volunteer and spends her entire five-hour shift bottle feeding kittens.

Johnson places a 2-week-old kitty on a heating pad and gets to work. If all goes well, the kitty will latch and get a bellyful of milk. 

"It's a lot of work when you have 65 kittens and four people feeding them. It's a lot of work," said Johnson.

A kitten in the Arizona Humane Society
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
A kitten in the Arizona Humane Society's Bottle Baby Intensive Care Unit on May 2, 2023.

And it’s non-stop. The nursery is already over capacity. And these kitties have to eat every couple of hours, so it’s a 24/7 operation. 

But for Johnson it’s a worthwhile cause.

"Yeah, the sweetest thing is when they really do a great latch, and their whole body shakes, their ears twitch, and then the whole body just starts shaking all the way down to the tail. It's so cute," Johnson said.

Things eventually slow down in November. And by next spring, the Arizona Humane Society’s new Papago Park location should be open. And it couldn’t come soon enough. A day after KJZZ New visited the nursery, they had to halt new intakes due to capacity issues. 

How to sign up to foster animals

  • Online at www.azhumane.org/foster
  • Take the online orientation.
  • Submit an application when ready to be matched with a pet.

There is no cost to foster animals. The Humane Society provides, food, treats, toys as needed; medical care through its trauma hospital; and matchmaking and support through its foster relationship specialists.

Voices of Arizona