Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
MT. PLEASANT - The Vintage Raven in Mt. Pleasant is home to antiques, collectibles and kittens.
The Vintage Raven Kitten Haven is a project started by Sam Riepe, his wife Jan, and Kate Ridinger about four years ago to protect and care for homeless kittens.
“We just saw that there were a lot of community cats in our neighborhood,” said Riepe. “And one of our neighbors had kittens under their porch, and they wanted help with them.”
Many times the Riepes have taken in kittens abandoned by their mother. This requires a lot of hours spent bottle feeding and caring for the kittens.
“We couldn’t keep them all,” said Riepe, “so we started finding homes for them, and we started adopting them out.”
The effort of caring for the kittens blossomed into the Kitten Haven project. In the four years since the project started, more than 300 kittens have been adopted. They choose to get the kittens as young animals, rather before they go feral.
“We prefer to take them and care for them, either bottle-feeding them or feeding them because mom has abandoned them,” said Riepe. “We find it hard if they have gone feral. Because we try to socialize them with other cats and people, to make sure that they are going to be good pets.”
The Haven also takes care of the veterinary needs of the animals as required. There are times when the kittens are born with health issues, and the animals will require specialized care to get them up to being healthy enough to adopt. “If we have them long enough,” said Riepe. “We will get them spayed or neutered. And then we find them new homes.”
“Three hundred cats is a lot of cats,” said Riepe. “We could have easily done two to three times that amount had we had the accommodations for them.”
Within the next couple of weeks there will be another spring batch of kittens, ready to be found and taken care of by the Haven.
“Our phone will be blowing up with calls from people wanting a place to take these kittens,” said Riepe. “Right now, it’s just the two homes that we are doing this out of. We do not have a facility yet, although we really need one.”
There are limitations on how many kittens can be taken in by the Haven since the kittens need constant care.
“We currently have seven kittens that we are caring for right now,” said Riepe. ”Five of which are more teen-aged kittens that had health issues and now they are going to be tough to re-home because of their age.”
Typically, a six-week old kitten is on solid foods and ready to go to a new home. There are times that some of The Haven’s kittens will be older than that due to health issues.
“By six weeks, they will have developed enough to be able to be a pet for someone,” said Riepe. “And still young enough that they do not have any set routines and can be integrated into a home easily enough.”
“It is important to remind those that are adopting a kitten, that these things take time,” said Riepe. “That giving the kitten some space in the beginning works out better in getting them accustomed to the new environment. We get stories all the time from people that have adopted from us. By and large, the vast majority of the adoptions have been successes.”
One of the other programs that The Haven is doing is called “Trap, Neuter, Release,” where they are taking care of older, feral cats that are established in neighborhoods by getting them spayed or neutered.
“This is a great way to reduce a cat colony population,” said Riepe.
The Haven is looking to expand into an established building as soon as possible. They are just looking for the right time and place for that growth. They are looking to have a facility that would take care of rehabilitating and re-homing both cats and dogs. They are looking forward to working with prison inmates in the near future, to assist in caring for the animals.
“We are going to make it happen,” said Riepe, “It just takes time to get things together because of COVID.”
The Haven also does community outreach with their kittens, by taking them to places such as Hope Haven.
“One of the things that we really like with our community outreach,” said Riepe, “Is getting to people that can’t have a pet, so that they are able to enjoy the kittens that we bring to them. It lets them bond with a kitten, and the kittens get to know other people, too.”
Contact Michelle Hillestad at email@example.com