24 April 2014

Down the rabbit hole

1/02/2012 9:46:00 a.m.

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Tiny Alice is off on a big adventure.

Tiny Alice is off on a big adventure.

THREE WEEK OLD Alice was left abandoned without her mother in Stokes Valley, but is now being sent to a prison where she’ll have several mothers looking after her. Alice is a kitten, rescued by the SPCA and one of several young cats selected for a special nurturing project at the Self-Care Unit of Tawa’s women’s prison, Arohata. The women are generally serving long sentences and move into the residential-style unit in their final year of imprisonment.
Wellington SPCA spokesman James Craw says Alice is part of a programme that has been a great success in the past. Four months ago a blind cat named Arla, in need of round-the-clock care, was put into the hands of prisoners to be looked after. The cat proved to be a hit and stayed at the unit until she was old enough to be rehomed.
“Alice is very young so she needs to be bottle-fed every two hours including all through the night. She also has to be toilet-trained. It’s a huge commitment,” says Craw, “It’s a two way thing. It works out well for us because there aren’t many fosterers who can make the commitment, and the people in the Self Care Unit get so much out of it.”
Craw says the Arohata prisoners do an “outstanding” job.
“We have no qualms sending kittens there.”
At eight weeks old Alice will be desexed and microchipped and found a more permanent home outside the prison. New kittens will be sent in her place and the SPCA has some big ideas about the future of the nurturing programme.
 “In the future we’re looking at sending cats to other prisons, including male prisons, and we also want to send dogs,” says Craw, “Dogs need to be walked, trained and bathed. There are a whole load of considerations when it comes to dogs.”
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