Only four days old and weighing just 80 grams, a tiny kitten was dumped at a pet store in a tissue box. With eyes still closed, her body riddled with fleas and covered in dirt, the helpless kitten had very low odds of surviving. Staff at the pet shop called animal control for help and the ginger was fortunate enough to be handed over to experienced cat lover and foster carer Hannah Shaw.
Known online as the Kitten Lady, Shaw’s project provides educational and training resources to help shelters and individuals provide the best possible care for orphaned kittens. In 2017 she was honoured with the 2017 Advocate of the Year award by CatCon Worldwide.
Kittens under the age of eight weeks old are extremely weak, and kittens under two weeks old are especially weak and vulnerable. They need help to regulate their body temperature, clean themselves and even go to the toilet. Shaw resolved to do her best to save the helpless kitten, a female dubbed Hanky, or “Hank” for short. After removing the fleas and cleaning Hank up with a warm bath, Shaw cared for her around the clock; syringe feeding her every few hours and nursing her back to health.
After surviving those first perilous weeks, it was another blow to poor Hank when she was diagnosed with panleukopenia – a disease that is often lethal to cats. But Shaw stepped it up: she nurtured Hank 24 hours a day, helping her beat the odds. “She survived one of the worst viruses a kitten can have,” Shaw said. I am beyond proud of this little fighter.”
It’s a happy ending for Hank, who found a loving home along with another foster cat named Kodiak (pictured below). According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, about 3.4 million cats end up in shelters every year. The survival rate for young kittens is very low, and it’s only thanks to the dedication of experienced foster parents like Hannah Shaw that precious babies like Hank have a chance to survive and thrive.