LOS ANGELES — They are brought into shelters in crates, boxes and flower pots at this time of the year: Tiny, mewing kittens with eyes barely open, with pink, toothless mouths — and usually with no mother to nurse them.
And here’s what it takes to keep them alive: people to hand-feed formula through a syringe or tiny bottle every two to three hours around the clock, until the newborns are 4 weeks old. Most shelters do not have the resources to do this, so kittens younger than 8 weeks — the earliest age of adoption — are typically euthanized.
Not so at a stucco-sided facility on the north side of Los Angeles. Sophia Lim, one of its many volunteers, knows the routine. Hands clad in blue surgical gloves on a spring afternoon, she gingerly weighs a 4-week-old beige kitten named Osbourne on a small tabletop scale, then places him belly-down on her chest and holds a travel shampoo-sized bottle to his lips. A few minutes later, she moves on to one of the other 81 unweaned kittens who needed to eat….