Deputy Prison Director Sue Abraham with one of the kittens in the kitten-fostering programme.New Zealand Herald recently visited Arohata Upper Prison in Upper Hutt to learn more about how our kitten-fostering programme is helping both the cats, and the women who look after them. Read the full story and watch their video here.

For those unfamiliar with the programme – the prison has partnered with local animal charity The Kitten Inn to foster the felines before they find their forever homes.

Over the last six weeks, prisoners have successfully fostered two sets of mother cats and their new-born kittens.  A Kitten Inn volunteer supports the women with what the daily requirements are for the cats’ care, and the women also have a training manual to follow. The women are responsible for the cats’ care and for socialising them.

The Kitten Inn volunteer visits the prison for a weekly kitten weigh-in, and the kittens and their mums are given a general health check at the same time.

When the kittens weigh 1kg the feline families are returned to Kitten Inn for adoption.

The women are now looking after a second set of mother cats and their kittens.

The women selected for the fostering role have shown good behaviour and a motivation to participate in programmes to address their offending.

“The programme is a good fit for the women who are participating in rehabilitation programmes, with one commenting how caring for the cats has had a positive change on her,” says Deputy Prison Director Sue Abraham.

“The women are developing empathy, emotional control, and caring and nurturing skills. They’re also putting some of the skills developed in their Kowhiritanga rehabilitation programme to good use by caring for the cats.”

Susan McNair from The Kitten Inn’s says they’re pleased to be working with the prison and the women.

“The kittens that have been returned have all found loving homes, it was very easy to home them as they were so beautifully socialised.

“The kittens and their mums come back in excellent condition and we can tell they are very well looked after.”

Kitten Inn is based in Kelson, Lower Hutt. Each year they take in, care for, de-sex, vaccinate, microchip, and find homes for over 1,500 kittens.