(WYTV) – Our Hometown Hero this week spends almost all of her free time helping kittens, but the cats she’s saving are probably a lot smaller than you may be thinking.
Gia DeAscentis founded the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee. The time-consuming job prevents kittens from being euthanized.
“It’s a tough job but it’s very rewarding. We definitely need more people,” DeAscentis said.
Four years ago, DeAscentis got a call from a friend who found kittens, just days old. The mother was nowhere to be found.
“I started calling rescues to see if they’d take them in and I found out pretty quick that there were no rescues that would take neonatal kittens,” DeAscentis said.
She quickly learned it takes a lot of work to get kittens like these five-day-old furry friends healthy enough to survive.
“It’s such a time-consuming job. They need fed, they need stimulated to go to the bathroom because they can’t go on their own yet, every hour-and-a-half/two hours. It’s a round-the-clock job,” DeAscentis said.
At this age, they can’t see, hear or smell. They can’t even regulate their body temperature.
“There’s not enough resources, there’s not enough time, there’s not enough people. So pretty much everywhere I called said they would be euthanized if I would surrender them unless they had a bottle feeder,” DeAscentis said.
DeAscentis became an expert and took on the role of cat mom — that’s how Amy Rigby, owner of Rebel Rescue Ranch in Berlin Center, found her.
“We needed an actual specialized unit, which became Itty Bitty Kitty Committee,” Rigby said.
“It’s awesome because she found me online because I had been doing this for about two years before we met,” DeAscentis said.
That call flourished into a partnership allowing for both the rescue and adoption of saved kittens.
“We’re two single women trying to save animals and I thought, let’s combine forces and we can help more if we come together,” Rigby said.
Last year, they saved 63 kittens. Each one needs around five to six weeks of care before moving to the rescue. DeAscentis is hoping to get more people involved to help save even more kittens.
“I’m going to be hosting a couple clinics and, it’s still in the works, but teaching bottle basics,” DeAscentis said.
DeAscentis added that the need is so much higher this year because the pandemic halted a lot of the trap, neuter, release groups who work to spay and neuter feral cats.
If you come across kittens, she says you should wait three to four hours to see if the mom returns before intervening.
If you’d like more information, want to donate or attend her classes once announced or you come across kittens in need, you can reach DeAscentis through the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee’s website or Facebook page.