Purricane Season Is Coming! Here’s How You Can Help Shelters Save Kittens

Kitten season. It sounds adorable. A time when a surge of kittens come into this world, bringing their cute little noses and bushy tails along. The reality of it, however, couldn’t be farther from the truth.

“Most shelters are not equipped or trained to provide the necessary round-the-clock care for neonatal kittens. If a kitten can’t eat on her own, she will likely be killed at the shelter,” explains the nonprofit Alley Cat Allies about what happens to most kittens after cats who are not spayed or neutered reproduce.

Seeing the problem repeated year after year around late spring and early summer — the so-called kitten season — Hannah Shaw decided to take matters into her own hands. She had been rescuing orphaned kittens for the better part of a decade in the Washington, D.C. area decided to share the knowledge with others through a project called The Kitten Lady, that is part of the nonprofit Photographers for Animals.

“My mission is to educate and inspire people to foster kittens,” explains Shaw of her organization that provides videos and blog entries for people to learn the ins and outs of caring for kittens zero to eight weeks old. “When I was learning this there was no place to go and there still isn’t a database on neonatal kittens. A lot of people use The Kitten Lady as a resource.”

Shaw usually fosters two litters at a time in her own home and uses the kittens as living, breathing examples on her videos, turning challenges into learning experiences. A “poopsplosion” became a “how to bathe a dirty kitten” tutorial, while a three-week old who was taken in with her eyes infected gets her journey to health chronicled, showing how her living quarters should be for optimum recovery.

The hardest lesson when it comes to taking care of a kitten, according to Shaw, however, cannot be taught in a tutorial. It is something people need to just do: When they’re healthy and ready for adoption, let go.

“One of the biggest parts that people have to be able to do is say goodbye,” she says. “Goodbye is a very successful thing. When I say goodbye to a kitten I’m happy because I know I saved their life and they’ll have an opportunity to be adopted now. It’s not about your relationship with that animal, it’s about you giving that animal who doesn’t have a mother a safe place for them and being a surrogate until they’re old enough.”

Not being a “foster failure,” she adds, gives people the opportunity to save dozens, even hundreds of kittens too instead of just one.

In addition to her online help, Shaw also works with shelters to train staff and fosters face-to-face on handling neonatal kittens. There’s no charge for it, she just asks them to help her cover her travel expenses and if possible make a donation to The Kitten Lady so she can continue spreading the word.

Can’t bottle-feed babies every three hours? Both Shaw and the Alley Cat Allies agree that there’s still something anyone can do for kittens. From fostering when they’re a few weeks old and can eat on their own to promoting trap, spay/neuter, release programs that will prevent future kittens from coming into the world homeless, the options are endless, just check with your local shelter.

Photo Credit: The Kitten Lady


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago


federico bortoletto


Dianne D.
Dianne D2 years ago

I'm a foster failure but will sign petitions, and educate others on spaying and neutering their pets.

Maggie A.
Maggie D2 years ago

I have a 2 year old foster beagle named Fernando. He's from Alabama and is looking for a forever home in Colorado. Anyone looking for a loving, cuddle bug?

Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Spay and neuter.

Shirley Plowman
Shirley Plowman2 years ago

Bless the Kitten Lady and remember her and her mission in your prayers.

Sheri D.
Sheri D3 years ago

Fostering is such an important part of animal rescue.

Virginia Belder
Virginia Belder3 years ago


Sharon S.
Sharon S3 years ago

The best thing you can do for kitten season is to spay/neuter. Next thing on the list is to keep your cat indoors.