I’ve always loved cats, even before I had cats of my own, even when my family insisted dogs were better and cats were “evil.” The Kitten Lady, and the larger community of cat foster parents, have helped me see the highs and lows of fostering while also presenting tons of cute kitten photos. The thing is, when a good, hard message gets wrapped in something sweet, you listen. The Kitten Lady’s approach to education is one like I’ve never seen before, full of compassion, a willingness to explain small details, and a profound love for the smallest cat population.
Hannah Shaw, known online as the Kitten Lady, has been advocating for kittens for years, both through her online presence and her work with shelters around the country (and really, world!). She’s also been quietly amassing a horde of online resources for would-be kitten caretakers--videos about topics that previously had little information, like how to bottle feed orphaned kittens safely.
All of this work has finally been compiled into one beautiful hardcover, Tiny but Mighty. The book feels weighty and important, and is stacked with full color, glossy pictures of former rescues. The photography is full of personality, and done by Hannah and her partner Andrew Marttila (@IAmtheCatPhotographer on Instagram), which adds a layer of personalization to the book that most instructional guides don’t have.
But this isn’t really an instructional guide, or if it is, it’s much more. The book begins with a lengthy chapter on animal welfare, piecing together bits of Shaw’s personal story with statistics and other data about shelters. Shaw outlines the importance of preventing kittens from being born through Trap, Neuter, Return programs in addition to caring for the vulnerable kitten population. By sterilizing community cat colonies, kittens will not be born into harsh environments and the individual lives of the community cats will be lengthened. TNR programs (and the eartipping that often accompanies them) are an important part of animal welfare, but many individuals aren’t aware of their existence, much less what they mean. Shaw describes these programs well, in a thorough, but still entertaining way.
Shaw also includes small asides with individual rescue stories, starting with her own cat, Coco, and moving on to other kittens she’s rescued throughout her career as an animal advocate. The stories of individual fosters are heartwarming, but they also serve to break up the serious, nitty gritty details of foster life while also providing valuable examples of the hypothetical situations Shaw walks you through in the book.
And boy are those details nitty gritty. Somehow, Shaw makes examining kitten poop and stimulating pee seem exciting, and like a privileged part of saving tiny lives--which it is! She also explains that there are other ways to help than fostering, and that fostering can take many different forms, including fostering moms with babies and volunteering at local animal rescues.
Fostering can happen anywhere, even in tiny studio apartments, even with resident cats, but there are precautions that people need to take to make fostering a smooth process--like making sure all cats are up to date on their shots! Shaw takes the guesswork out of the entire process by creating lists and charts for what foster parents need to know, including weight charts and required temperatures.
Being able to inspire people to become animal advocates while communicating the harsh realities of the shelter system and the potential heartbreak of fostering is a skill that Shaw has developed over many years of experience, and it shows. This book will become the kitten fostering bible, serving as a hard copy of Shaw’s extensive online work.
Most importantly, Shaw’s advocacy spreads beyond kittens to the entire community cat population, and that the first step to helping orphaned kittens is addressing the community cat population.
Tiny but Mighty will be at a bookstore near you on August 6, so you don’t have long to wait to get your own copy of this fostering resource! If you love cats, this is a must have.
#BookSquadGoals received an ARC copy of this book for promotional purposes. All opinions expressed are Mary’s own, but really, if you hate foster kittens that might be more a reflection on you than on this book!