AWLA’s Neonatal Kitten Program

About the “Kitten College”

Created in 2017, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s kitten nursery is the first stand-alone neonatal kitten nursery in the metro DC area. The program known as the “Kitten College” – has a dedicated group of volunteers and fosters that help make it such a success.  It is a unique and innovate approach to saving the most fragile population of shelter animals.

In Arlington County, we are fortunate enough to have a very small local population of stray cats thanks to a longstanding and highly successful trap-neuter-return program.  As a result, the Kitten College can focus on helping other locations with far fewer resources: we target unweaned kittens slated for euthanasia at under-resourced shelters in the greater Washington D.C. region, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Kitten College relies on an extensive group of dedicated fosters and volunteers that provide the specialized care needed to ensure these kittens grow up happy and healthy.  By taking kittens that would have otherwise been euthanized, the Kitten College fills a vital gap in the community and helps to save hundreds of kitten lives a year.


  • The nursery opened in late July 2017 and by year’s end had taken in 356 kittens from newborn to eight weeks old, a nearly 300% increase over the entire previous year (2016).
  • The Kitten College maintains a survival rate over 90%, including a survival rate of 93% in 2017.
  • Since opening in summer 2017, the program has saved nearly a thousand lives.
  • The Kitten College is one of the only municipal shelters in the nation that takes the majority of their kittens in from other jurisdictions.
  • New in 2018…AWLA is partnering with multiple northern shelters where the kitten populations are limited due to harsh winters, allowing us to save even more kitten lives.

Please contact Marnie Russ, Kitten College Coordinator, at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington if you would like to become a part of the Kitten College. Opportunities include, fostering and transporting.