The Kitten Ambassadors monitor the progress of all kittens through the clinic to ensure priority handling and the careful treatment, monitoring, and express service they require. The goal is to minimize time under anesthesia for kittens or any cat weighing 4 pounds or less and for these patients to recover in a warm environment.
Kitten Ambassadors must have worked in Recovery prior to being assigned to KCU or Kitten Isolation Recovery. Rabies vaccine is required for this station.
Purpose of the Kitten Care Unit (KCU)
Kittens tend to recover very quickly from anesthesia when conditions are favorable, so they can be very robust patients for spay-neuter surgery. However, smaller patients have more trouble maintaining body temperature, even when conscious, especially in cool environments. Keep in mind that a kitten’s body temperature should be about 100-101 degrees, yet air-conditioned rooms are often 68-72 degrees, a difference of 30 degrees from the kitten’s body temperature.
The risk of hypothermia increases drastically after anesthetic induction. Low body temperature delays the clearance of anesthesia and increases the risk of delayed recovery and death.
The Operation Catnip KCU provides individualized care and specialized monitoring in order to optimize the anesthetic experience and surgical outcome for our smallest patients. Keeping kittens warm will literally save their lives.
Kitten Ambassador Instructions
Kitten Ambassadors must have worked in recovery prior to being assigned to KCU or Kitten Isolation Recovery
Kitten Ambassadors must be rabies vaccinated.
- Typically, two Kitten Ambassadors are scheduled for each clinic.
- The Kitten Ambassadors ensure that any kittens estimated 4 lbs or less are advanced through the line ahead of larger cats and expedited at every station from Admissions through Recovery.
- These kittens are overseen by the Kitten Monitors in KCU and in Isolation before and after surgery to assure the kittens stay warm and stress free.
Caretakers are encouraged to bring kittens older than 12 weeks and weighing over 3 lbs. Bringing kittens that weigh less than 3 pounds is strongly discouraged. Occasionally, undersized kittens are admitted for the ultimate benefit of the kitten due to extenuating circumstances. Such circumstances include:
- A kitten in a trap with a queen,
- A caregiver who is unable to re-trap and return with the kitten at a subsequent clinic,
- A kitten that is ill or injured and requires veterinary attention.
- Because of their small size, ALL kittens benefit from special handling. Kitten Monitors are responsible for providing constant, careful treatment and monitoring post-surgery that these small patients require.
Check the supply list and notify the Clinic Supervisor of any shortages prior to the start of the clinic.
Set up the Kitten Care Unit (KCU) for healthy kittens and Isolation for infectious kittens:
- To set up the KCU and the kitten area of Isolation, heat all of the warming disks in the microwave in the microwave room. Place warming disks in the cages on towels or fleece, not directly on the cage surface to avoid heat loss to the stainless steel. Newspaper is not a sufficient cage liner.
- Microwave rice-filled socks for 2 minutes. Afterward, place rice socks in plastics sleeves to prevent contamination and potential disease spread from kitten to kitten. Change sleeves between patients.
- Install necessary extension cords for the small fan-forced heaters and heat lamps, and begin heating the areas in the stainless steel cages where the kittens await surgery and recover.
- Set up the stainless steel cages in Isolation with heavy towels or fleece and one fan-forced heater in preparation of the arrival of kittens with URI. If no URI kittens are admitted, move the heaters to KCU.
Once the KCU and Isolation are set up, proceed to the Admissions Station to facilitate movement of kittens through Admission. Take care that the kittens remain warm in the cool weather and kept out of the sun during warm weather.
Standard admission and follow-through procedures:
- Caregivers with kittens are asked to check in through the Express Lane.
- The Triage Coordinator determines when kittens fit the criteria for admission. If the kitten’s admission is in question, the Triage Coordinator may consult the Admissions Captain. The Clinic Supervisor and Lead Veterinarian may also be consulted for special circumstances and exceptions.
- Once accepted for surgery, a hot pink KITTEN alert tag is placed on the trap and the Admissions Tagger notifies the Kitten Ambassador when check-in is complete.
- The Kitten Ambassador or the Admissions Transporter delivers the kitten to the KCU if healthy, or to Isolation if the kitten appears infectious. The Kitten Ambassador returns to Admissions to continue facilitating kitten admissions.
- Kitten Monitors stay with the kittens in KCU and Isolation while they await transport to the Anesthesia Station.
- Thirty minutes after the start of anesthesia, the Kitten Ambassador checks with the Clinic Supervisor to determine the availability of appropriate surgeons. Only surgeons who are proficient with kittens will perform kitten surgeries. The Clinic Supervisor determines appropriate surgeon availability and determines the number and timing that kittens move from KCU/Isolation to Anesthesia. When indicated, the Kitten Ambassador moves kittens to the Anesthesia Station.
- Once delivered to the Anesthesia Station, the Kitten Ambassador notifies the Vet Exam Station that a kitten will be arriving. The Clinic Supervisor may inform other stations to help promote expedited handling.
- A Kitten Ambassador Kitten List is maintained on a clipboard on the wall in the Vet Exam Station. All kittens and cats 4 lbs or less will be entered on this list.
- The Vet Exam Station may add kittens or cats 4 lbs or less to the Kitten List if they are not identified until they are anesthetized and weighed. The Vet Exam Station will provide the hot pink KITTEN tags at that time.
- Because the Kitten Ambassadors oversee any cat/kitten, 4 pounds or less, the KAs must regularly check the Kitten Listing in the Vet Exam Station to keep apprised of all kittens that require monitoring.
- The Kitten Ambassadors follow all kittens through all stations ensuring they are moved ahead of other cats in line.
- Once a kitten completes the Clinic Records Station, the Records Transporter brings the kitten and its hot pink KITTEN tag to the Recovery Monitor. The KITTEN tag is placed on the trap.
- After all services are completed, the Kitten Ambassador or the Recovery Transporter returns kittens to KCU or Isolation for post-op monitoring. The Kitten Monitors must be available to accept kittens at any time in KCU and in Isolation.
- Once all kittens have moved through surgery and are recovering, the Kitten Ambassadors assist with monitoring in KCU and Isolation.
All Station Images
Station Closing and Cleanup
When the clinic is concluded all station volunteer are expected to assist in the following:
- Inventory the remaining supplies and repack the supply kits. Replacement supplies are found in our Storage Room.
- If there is a shortage of supplies, please include needed supplies on the Close-Our Check list for the debrief.
- Replace the repacked kit, including instructions, on the rolling cart in the proper position.
- Return Kitten tags to the bins on the Admissions cart.
- Wipe and dry all stainless steel cages with disinfectant to clean.
- Clear area of all trash and remove the trash in the large plastic bags to the anatomy lab hall for disposal.