Kittens were only two days old when thrown in rubbish bin (Image: RSPCA)
Serena Grimes devoted months of her life to hand-rear the four kittens so they could grow up as loving pets. Every hour of the day, she made sure the abandoned youngsters were bottle fed and pampered, even playing the role of a mother cat by purring and nuzzling the tiny creatures to help them feel safe.Express.co.uk highlighted the kittens’ plight when they were saved from an agonising death and now, under the foster mother’s care, the kittens have been found new homes.
Ms Grimes, centre manager at the Worcester and Mid Worcester RSPCA branch, took on the role of stand-in mother when the kittens were wrapped up in a plastic bag and thrown callously into the waste bin before Christmas, an act of animal cruelty that shockedExpress.co.uk readers.
The four kittens would have perished in the freezing cold if they had not been rescued but, even after being pulled from the bin, they were far too young to survive without their natural mother – or a dutiful substitute.
Today, Ms Grimes told how the two female and two male kittens – named Olive, Fern, Jacob and Bowie and now 14 weeks old – are settling with new families.
She said: “After their bad start it is amazing that all four have survived. Every hour or two for the first two weeks I was feeding them on special formula milk from a bottle. I didn’t get much sleep at all but it was worth it because they are so adorable.”
Cat foster mother Sarah Grimes devoted her life to raising newborn kittens (Image: RSPCA)
She continued: “Hand-rearing is hard and there is no guarantee it will work, you could put all the hours in and still lose them as nothing is as good as what a mother can provide naturally. You also have to be very tactile. It can’t be done as well in a sterile veterinary environment as they need to feel heartbeat and warmth and hear and smell you for comfort.
“I spent a lot of time with them in my jumper asleep so they could feel my heart and also did lots of nuzzling and purring, Then, after that, I was feeding them every three to four hours until they were five weeks old and I was able to wean them. During that time they went with me everywhere so I could continue to feed them.”
To help look after the growing kittens, Ms Grimes turned a spare room into a creche, so they could explore and develop their senses. Playing every day house-hold noises such as babies crying and telephones ringing helped socialise the kittens.
This week saw the kittens go to their new home, with the two males and two females remaining in pairs.
This is a copycat version of the kind made by Greenies.
The four kittens were helpless when they were dumped in bin (Image: RSCPA)
Kittens were wrapped in plastic bag and thrown into rubbish bin (Image: RSPCA)
Their “foster mother” will keep in touch to follow their development as Ms Grimes explained: “I am delighted they have thrived and the sleepless and nerve-wracking nights and long days have paid off, not just because they are adorable but what really motivates me is my passion to rehabilitate and give animals the opportunity of a life away from cruelty.
“I think that is important as a lot of people take on things they consider cute and then get overwhelmed at the workload which is how a lot of animals end up in our care. But there are lots of animal rescue workers like me that go that extra mile. It is a lifestyle choice not just a career.
“I also couldn’t have done it without some respite from the veterinary nurses at Ambleside Veterinary Clinic either, who cared for the kittens so I could still do a few social obligations I had planned and I would have been dead on my feet without those few days to recover.”
It was only by chance the kittens were rescued from the bin in Union Row, Handsworth, Birmingham, when a passing woman heard their frightened cries echoing in the green industrial bin.
The Cat Population Control Group (CPCG) – made up of a number of animal welfare groups, including the RSPCA, Cats Protection, Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, Blue Cross, PDSA and Vets 4 Pets, believes having kittens spayed when they reach four months of age rather than at the traditional six months stage will help reduce these figures.
Kittens had to be hand-fed around the clock (Image: RSPCA)
The animal welfare charity is still investigating last December's incident and are appealing for witnesses. RSPCA Animal Collection Officer Vic Hurr said: “The kittens were obviously put in a plastic bag and thrown in the bin on purpose and were left to either freeze or starve to death.
“It was a bitterly cold morning and there was frost on the ground so they could have easily perished. I am still keen to trace the callous person who is responsible.”
Anyone with information about who dumped the kittens should call the RSPCA appeals line on 0300 123 8018.