“Kitten Lady” Hannah Shaw to appear at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville

Alison Pfaff, Managing Editor

Hannah Shaw has over 954,000 followers on Instagram. Her claim to fame? Kittens. “Kitten Lady,” Shaw has been rescuing kittens for years, but her advocacy goes further than her decade of kitten fostering. 

It started when I found a kitten in a tree in Philadelphia,” Shaw said. “I had to climb to the top of the tree and get her down, and I had no idea what to do after that. I started looking for resources on how to take care of a kitten, what resources existed for them, and I found that  really set me on a journey of discovering that kittens are extremely at risk in the United States, and I had no idea,” Shaw said. 

Kittens younger than 8 weeks that are brought into shelters are at a higher risk of being euthanized, according to Shaw.  Many animal shelters do not have the resources to give young kittens the care they need, which is where fostering comes in. 

“Obviously, one person can’t save all the kittens in their local shelter. As I started to recruit other people I found that, wow, there’s no written guide on how to do this,” Shaw said.

Shaw created YouTube videos for friends who were fostering kittens, after having friends reach out to her asking questions. From this, Shaw gained over 846,000 subscribers on the platform. Her videos range from “Caring for a paralyzed kitten, Chloe (UPDATE!)” with over 10 million views, to “Saving the Tiniest Newborn Kitten” with 4.4 million views.

For college students, it may seem like fostering kittens can be a daunting task. Shaw said those who foster can decide the time they are willing to dedicate.

“When you foster, you decide who and when you can take. So if your schedule doesn’t accommodate you taking kittens who need care every three hours, you don’t take on kittens who need care every three hours. But you can take on weaned kittens, 5 weeks and older, they can feed themselves. You can leave them while you’re in class. You can leave them while you’re asleep. You just monitor them and make sure they’re OK,” Shaw said. 

Her advice to college students wanting to help, who can’t foster, is to use their passions and skills and worry less about how it will connect to helping animals. Her book has an entire section called “Finding your Feline Superpower,” about resources and skills that already exist.

“If you’re passionate about math and cats you can do something with that, for real, and say ‘I’m going to volunteer to help out with collecting data for my local animal shelter so that they can make policy decisions based on that data,’” Shaw said. 

“My advice for college students would be not to say, ‘I wish I could do this, but I can’t,’ but to instead say, ‘What can I do? What resources and skills do I have right now, and how can I take the interest I have and the skills I have and use them for the service of saving cats lives.’” 

Shaw’s new book: “Tiny but Mighty; Kitten Lady’s Guide to Saving the Most Vulnerable Felines”  is a step-by-step guide to fostering kittens complete with adorable pictures and stories of her own personal rescuing/fostering experience, as well as spreading awareness on the “state of the kitten” in the United States. 

“Tiny But Mighty is really like the accumulation of everything I have learned and shared in one place so there is an official guide on saving these little ones,” Shaw said. 

 Shaw will sign books, as well as talk about her experiences with fostering at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug.9,  at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville. Anderson’s has partnered with the Catcade, a cat adoption agency for the event. While tickets for the signing line are sold out, the event is free and open to the public.