Saving Kittens’ Lives

Not All Cat-Heros Wear Capes…

I had the unique pleasure of attending a talk a few weekends ago by the passionate Hannah Shaw, aka Kitten Lady!

Not quite knowing what to expect, I nervously checked myself into the event, received a cute cat stamp on my wrist, and surveyed the landscape. As I walked into the moderately sized room, I quickly felt at home. I was surrounded by other compassionate cat lovers, all of whom were there to learn more about our furry feline friends and how we can help them. Lining the walls of the room were shelters from various parts of Oregon all doing their part to help the cat community.

The first part of the talk was focused on “Saving Kittens’ Lives” most of which was new information for me. I learned how vulnerable kittens are when they are first born and how they navigate the world, initially, by smell and seeking warmth. It can take almost two weeks for their eyes to open and almost three weeks for their ears to unfold. Teeth development and thus weaning tends to happen at about five weeks of age.

All of this talk about kittens made me immediately think about our two rescues: Abe and Lincoln.

Lincoln (Left) is a black Norwegian Forest Cat and Abe (Right) is a tabby Domestic Medium Hair.
Lincoln (Left) is a black Norwegian Forest Cat and Abe (Right) is a tabby Domestic Medium Hair.

We adopted our first cat, Abe, from a shelter in New York City. By the time we took him home, he was about 10 weeks old. Our second cat, Lincoln, found us at about 5 weeks of age—but, Lincoln came with his mom in tow so our assistance was more in helping mom.

Learning about all of the kittens who are brought into shelters before they are weaned and how much care is required to help these cute and vulnerable creatures grow, was, honestly, quite eye-opening. And within the first twenty minutes, I decided I needed to be more active in helping these often helpless animals. I’m planning on fostering kittens with my husband this year.

So ridiculously cute…

Community Cats

The second portion of the talk was dedicated to Community Cats. One of the things Hannah said over and over again, which I greatly appreciated, was how we need to meet these cats where they are.

Not all cats can nor should be indoor cats. In fact, cats being exclusively indoor is a relatively new movement. This started a little over 50 years ago. Many cats are perfectly happy and safe living in their own outdoor community. There are things we can do to help them – like TNR (trap neuter return) – but, uprooting them and forcing them to live inside, is not usually in the best interest of the cat.

This isn’t to say there aren’t dangers to being an outdoor cat. Our cats are both indoor-only. We were lucky enough to get them when they were young and helped socialize them. I really appreciated Kitten Lady’s perspective and background on community cats.

It was a day full of cat facts and, just as importantly, very cute kitten videos. I learned a lot and walked away with a drive to be a member of this larger community and play my part in helping these vulnerable and oh so cute animals.

Newborn kittens need lots of help and attention when not being raised by their mama…

Key Takeaways from Kitten Lady:

  • When kittens are just born they are so vulnerable and can’t do things like regulating their body temperature or go to the bathroom on their own. This is why they require so much attention and care when they are being raised away from their mom.
  • Socializing kittens usually needs to happen at a very young age, ideally before they are 3 months of age.
  • TNR is incredibly important and provides a higher quality of life for the adult cat while also reducing the number of new cats introduced into the wild.
  • Not all cats are meant to be indoor, and that’s okay.
  • Meet the cat where s/he is and be as much of an ally and champion for s/he as you can be.

Want to Learn More?

Want to learn more about Hannah Shaw and her kitten-saving efforts?

Meet the fabulous Kitten Lady (Hannah Shaw) for yourself!

Kitten Lady also provides lots of great tutorials on how to set yourself up for successful kitten fostering.

Learn how to create a space suitable for fostering kittens in your own home!