It all started in 2008. Twenty-something Hannah Shaw was minding her own business, walking down a street, when she saw a teeny little kitten in a tree. After realizing that the kitten was abandoned, Shaw did what any animal-lover would do: she climbed the tree, tucked the kitten in her shirt and took her home.
That was eight years and several hundred kittens ago. Almost immediately after that first rescue, Shaw seemed to attract orphaned kittens faster than she could rescue them. "I started seeing more kittens outside," she told Catster.com. "I also started getting calls from people saying they'd found a kitten and were asking me for help."
Over the years, Shaw began honing her talent for caring for newborn kittens. Sure, there are lots of snuggles and an overwhelming amount of cuteness, but there are also round-the-clock feedings, medication schedules, vet appointments and weeks of 24-hour care. Shaw says that the first thing she does when someone calls asking her to take care of a newborn kitten or a litter, is to check her calendar to make sure that she is going to be available to dedicate herself to the kittens for the next several weeks.
And she continues to do just that. She calls herself the "neonatal kitten warrior," and documents the trials and tribulations of her foster felines on her Instagram page using the handle "Kittenxlady."
Shaw hopes that her Instagram site and new website kittenlady.org will help spread the word about the plight of orphaned newborn kittens. She also hopes to share information about the best practices when caring for baby kitties.
"It's really interesting that a lot of people are surprised that kittens are such an at-risk population," she said. "Shelters don't often have the resources to put towards kittens and especially neonatal kittens, because they require round-the-clock care. With orphaned neonatal kittens, most shelters around the United States look at them as an untreatable condition and they're euthanized almost immediately."
Surprisingly, Shaw says the best part about fostering kittens is the goodbye. "Goodbye is the fun part, because the whole reason why I do this is because I want these kittens to have a shot at life. When they come into a shelter or when they’re orphaned on the street, they have no chance at all to be a healthy adult cat in a loving home. There's nothing like saying, 'Goodbye, good luck, you did great, now get out of my house!'"