MT. PLEASANT — Kittens at the Vintage Raven Kitten Haven have gone on several field trips to Park Place Elder Living this summer, an activity that has proved therapeutic for residents and is a good socialization opportunity for the cats, which are up for adoption.
The Vintage Raven Kitten Haven is a nonprofit cat-only animal shelter in Mt. Pleasant, which was started by the owners of The Vintage Raven antique store about a year and a half ago. The Kitten Haven rescues outdoor kittens, which range from newborns to 3-month olds, nurse them back to health and put them up for adoption. The Kitten Haven has seen around 50 cats rotate through the program this year and has adopted out more than 20, said Sam Riepe, owner of The Vintage Raven and co-founder of the Kitten Haven with his wife Jen Riepe and their friend Kate Ridinger.
Miranda Pratt, activities director at Park Place, reached out to the Kitten Haven about three months ago asking if they would be interested in bringing the kittens as a program for residents. Ridinger was skeptical at first. Kittens are kittens, after all.
The first time they brought the kittens to Park Place, however, was so successful that they’ve done it three more times since.
“They’re all very young. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go,” Ridinger said. “Once we saw how they did with the residents and how the residents responded — the kittens are on their best behavior, which is kind of bizarre.”
Ridinger said they wrap the kittens in small blankets, hand them to Park Place residents and the kittens drift off to sleep.
“The kittens just soak it in,” Ridinger said.
Ridinger said that as soon as she walks into Park Place with the kittens, the residents’ faces light up. A lot of the residents share stories of their cats from long ago.
The field trip also exposes the kittens to potential adopters such as Park Place employees or people visiting residents at Park Place, Ridinger said. It’s good public awareness for the Kitten Haven, Sam added.
Making a difference
Programs like taking the kittens to Park Place only add to the Kitten Haven’s founder’s feeling that they are making a difference.
“It’s a small drop in the bucket, but we’re advocating for these little guys,” Ridinger said.
Sam said that when a newborn kitten comes to them, it can be scary to nurse them back to health. There’s no guarantee they will make it, he said.
“You get to that point where they’re safe and thriving,” Sam said. “They’re so close to death and you see them make it and get adopted and you know they’ll be happy cats.”
Ridinger said the Kitten Haven has seen a large number of kittens needing to be taken in this summer, depleting the nonprofits funds for supplies and medical care for fostered kittens. And almost every kitten is likely coming into the Kitten Haven with a medical issue, she said.
“We’re trying to replenish funds. I can’t stress enough that if we didn’t have generous donors, this program wouldn’t exist,” she said.
Sam said in conversations with Travis Van De Berg, veterinarian at Northeast Animal Hospital, that the kitten population has been unusually high this summer.
“Every shelter is jam-packed with cats,” Sam said, stressing the need for cats to be neutered or spayed and kept indoors.
When a kitten is adopted from the Kitten Haven, adopters sign a document promising to get the kitten neutered or spayed and vaccinated. Twice, the Kitten Haven has had kittens be returned to them by their adopters.
“That’s OK,” Sam said. “We’d rather take the cat back then put it in a bad situation. It’s not a judgment, it’s just what’s right for that person and the kitten.”
Sam said they are not actively looking for other public outreach opportunities for the Kitten Haven, but if someone is interested in hosting an adoption event or interacting with the kittens, they are welcome to reach out to The Vintage Raven.
The Vintage Raven also will be hosting a rummage sale as a fundraising event for the Kitten Haven during Midwest Old Threshers on Friday, Aug. 30, and Saturday, Aug. 31. Funds raised will go toward supplies for the Kitten Haven and medical care for the fostered kittens. They are accepting donations to the rummage sale, which can be dropped off at The Vintage Raven at 103 South Jefferson Street in Mt. Pleasant before Aug. 20.
For more information about the Vintage Raven Kitten Haven or for adoption inquiries, visit The Vintage Raven Kitten Haven on Facebook or call The Vintage Raven at 319-201-1279.