Hannah Shaw has been involved in animal rescue efforts for most of her life, so she didn’t hesitate to act when she found a tiny kitten in a tree in 2008. She didn’t know at the time that rescuing the kitten would drastically change her life and the lives of hundreds of future kittens.
Once the kitten was safely out of the tree, Hannah realized she didn’t know how to care for such a young kitten. She also knew she couldn’t bring the kitten to an animal shelter because the ones in the city she was living in (Philadelphia) had a very high kill-rate. She did a bunch of research but the information she found was either conflicted or very outdated; there was no comprehensive informational hub. After troubleshooting her way through raising that first kitten into a healthy adult who still lives with her today, Hannah decided it was up to her to provide the resource for other people who need help.
After the first kitten, Hannah started seeing stray kittens everywhere she went. “I started being known as Kitten Lady,” she says, “because I’d always take the kittens in. Then my phone number started being passed around and people started calling me to help.” Kitten Lady is now able to accept tax-deductible donations as a project of a 501c3 organization.
To date, Hannah has raised between 200-300 kittens on her own, but there have been many, many more that she has been involved with caring for by providing information and support. She has made it a point to give her number to local shelters so that staff knows to call her if they need help. She also sometimes cares for kittens temporarily while she trains someone else how to provide the care.
Neonatal kittens (infants) require around-the clock care, which makes shelters and clinics very dangerous places for them. Shelters and clinic staff simply don’t have the time or resources to funnel into feeding them every two hours, and they often resort to euthanizing them instead. Kittens are much more likely to survive and thrive in home environments, and Kitten Lady wants to make that an easier choice for rescuers. Through the website and social media channels, Kitten Lady provides free educational tools that are accessible to people all over the world so they can help the orphaned kittens in their own communities.
These days, Hannah lives in Washington, DC. In addition to Kitten Lady, she works as a consultant to help rescue organizations and shelters learn how to provide the best care to neonatal kittens.
Being away from home for large chunks of her day hasn’t limited her ability to care for her own revolving batch of kittens, though. “I only work in offices where I’m allowed to have kittens with me,” she says, “If you see me and I have a bag, there’s a kitten in it. I always have a playpen or a room with a door that closes. I’ve worked in animal protection for so many years that anywhere I work allows me to have them.”
Kitten season is just around the corner, and soon there will be orphaned kittens in need of compassionate and committed foster parents to provide care. Think you have what it takes to care for kittens until they’re ready to be adopted into forever homes? Contact your local rescue organization or shelter to see what’s involved with becoming a foster parent.
To learn more about caring for neonatal kittens, to follow the progress of Hannah’s foster kittens, or to donate to Kitten Lady’s work, click on these links: