This article was featured in WYDaily on 9/1/23.
While summer may be giving way to autumn, kitten season is still in full power, or purring, mode at The Heritage Humane Society. Whether searching for a new furry friend or looking to be a part of their village as a foster, there are many opportunities to connect with the area’s feline friends.
Since the beginning of 2023, The Heritage Humane Society has helped 301 kittens be adopted. From neonatal kittens just weighing ounces to pregnant and nursing moms, the shelter’s staff is supported with volunteers and fosters the area’s largest homeless animal shelter.
Kittens and cats arrive from all over the Greater Williamsburg area from a variety of circumstances. From storm drains to construction sites, unexpected yard finds to dumpster cries, abandoned in boxes or unwanted by people with unspayed female cats, there’s a steady line of felines arriving to The Heritage Humane Society. Sometimes these delicate little ones are found in unlikely places such as the days old trio found in the hole of a tree or the prized ragdoll duo dubbed Fanbelt Charlie and Darwin after a driver received the surprise of their life when they cranked their car engine only to discover Charlie the kitten caught in the fan belt. Her doting brother Darwin stuck by her side and their “survival of the fittest” story complete with a lot of medical care eventually led to Charlie’s complete healing and the two being adopted together.
Fosters provide the foundation for their fur-ever homes
Since kittens have highly delicate immune systems, the shelter has a trained group of fosters they prefer to place kittens, kittens with nursing moms, and pregnant moms with for extra care, comfort and attention.
For many folks, it comes as a surprise that often many of the youngest kittens did not spend their first weeks at the shelter, rather they lived with one of the shelter’s foster families before returning to The Heritage Humane Society to be adopted. A network of trained fosters throughout Greater Williamsburg works year-round taking on the care of kittens and cats, doing everything and anything including getting them accustomed to people and living in homes, litter box training, bottle feeding, weaning and as needed, providing medication.
The shelter’s fosters are as diverse as their young charges. Some are retirees or empty nesters who enjoy the extra company and have big blocks of time to devote, especially for kittens who need added socialization or medical care. Others are busy with work and enjoy temporarily homing older kittens or cats who are more self-sufficient. Still others are families who love the educational aspect and the joy of teaching the next generation how to contribute to society. What the fosters all have in common is the joy of seeing their temporary roommates thrive.
Longtime foster Jane Lang has an affinity for spicy (read: hissy, scared) kittens. Lang shares, “I have been lucky to foster 140 kittens over the past ten years – kittens found atop car engines, in boxes at supermarkets, and under rides at Busch Gardens. But no matter where they were found, they are all now in loving adoptive homes and that’s the best part of being a foster mom – helping spicy, scaredy kittens grow into trusting and loving household pets. There’s no greater reward than hearing a shy and silent kitten purr for the first time.”
Another of the shelter’s longtime fosters, Mary Dillion shares, “We are a military family who were new to the area and didn’t have extended family anywhere near. I wanted my children to learn responsibility, how to deal with loss, and the importance of community service. We connected with Heritage Humane Society and have fostered over 300 kittens, cats and even a couple dogs. Is it hard to nurture them and give them up? Of course. But, knowing that we are doing it so another family can have a happy, healthy pet makes it so much easier to say goodbye when it’s time for them to be adopted.”
Are you ready to be on the foster roster?
The Heritage Humane Society currently has 88 kittens in its care with 61 of those in foster homes. They range from 16 days old to 10 months old. Since kittens have highly delicate immune systems, the shelter has a trained group of fosters they prefer to place kittens, kittens with nursing moms, and pregnant moms with for extra care, comfort and attention.
Fosters apply online and the shelter team provides training, supplies, regular check-ups and support. The shelter also runs an active, private group on Facebook exclusively for fosters who can ask questions, share updates, and learn from one another. Dillon shares, “Heritage Humane Society is a great organization to be involved with. I have been able to reach out to them anytime day or night with sick kittens in crisis and know that I am going to be supported 100%.”
For those who would like to contribute, but cannot foster, opportunities include shopping from the shelter’s Kitten Wish List, its Amazon Wish List, or donating online.
For an extra special experience, join Kitten Yoga. The Heritage Humane Society is hosting a beginner-friendly, gentle yoga class with Cameron Green on Sat., Sept. 23, 2023, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. For a $20 donation, attendees of all levels will enjoy practicing yoga while some of the shelter’s little kittens join in, perfecting their cat/cow and downward dog poses. Pre-registration is available online.
Meet these kittens ready for adoption
This week’s adorable shelter kittens who are just some that are ready for their new homes include:
• Statler. Statler is a five-month-old, sleek black, boy kitten. Little Statler was born with CH (Cerebellar Hypoplasia) which is a neurological condition that causes some sudden jerky movements, uncoordinated motion, and loss of balance. Statler has no idea he is a little different and has been growing and thriving in a foster home with his sister Waldorf. He has had no litter box accidents and eats and plays like a normal kitten, just with a little adorable wobble. His foster mom shares, “Statler is a silly boy who doesn’t let his wobbly legs stop him from getting into everything. He plays hard and purrs even harder. When he’s done playing he loves to curl up in your lap or bask in the sunshine. He’ll need a home with carpet to help him from slipping all over the hard floors.”
• Waldorf. Waldorf is a five-month-old female gray and white kitten who came to The Heritage Humane Society as a stray with her brother Statler. Her foster mom says, ” Waldorf is a shy kitten who loves to be pet but doesn’t enjoy being picked up. She’d be better in a quiet home as too much excitement stresses her out. She’s perfectly happy to sit next to you, let you pet her and people-watch.” Waldorf is currently at Schwartzy’s Cat Cove in New Town Williamsburg.
The Heritage Humane Society has over 240 dogs, cats and small pets currently in their care. Adoptable pets are available to meet during The Heritage Humane Society’s visiting and adopting hours from 12 to 4:30 p.m., Tues. through Sun.
To learn more, visit HeritageHumane.org, call 757-221-0150, or visit The Heritage Humane Society located at 430 Waller Mill Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185.
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