SIDNEY – Two sisters-in-law are helping stray kittens find their “furever” homes, one colony at a time, as a prospective non-profit called The Kitten Koop.
The Kitten Koop was started in January 2022 by Founder and Director Kayla Van Erdewyk in Colorado and focused on being an online feline welfare resource. She has had a passion for animal welfare for 24 years after meeting a rescue dog named Nala and started fostering kittens in her home in Colorado in June 2021. She credits everything she knows about kitten fostering and care to internet celebrity Hannah Shaw, also known as the Kitten Lady, and the Colorado organizations she has fostered for.
Van Erdewyk’s sister-in-law, Jess Mathews, is the strategic adviser and satellite foster for the organization and has lived in Sidney since October 2021. The Kitten Koop started cat rescue efforts in June 2022 after Mathews saw a large number of stray cats in the Sidney area and the overflow of cats in nearby shelters. So far, they have completed the rescue and fostering process for nine cats that have come from all over Shelby County.
“After living in our new house for a week, a sick, frail kitten showed up on my doorstep. She had been dumped in our rural area, right in our front yard,” Mathews said. “That experience, along with noticing the massive cat colony in my area, signaled to me that I had the opportunity to step in with my amazing sister-in-law who was very experienced in providing cat and kitten care up to adoption.”
“We hope to educate the public on why cats need more resources in this area of Ohio, why they should be spayed/neutered, and how to find the best outcome for each individual cat or kitten,” Van Erdewyk said. “The bottom line is that there is a significant need for kitten rescuers and adopters in Sidney. We need to get the community cat population under control through Trap Neuter Return (TNR) efforts, and we can’t do that without the help of the people of Sidney. If someone feeds outdoor cats, they need to get them spayed/neutered to prevent an endless supply of unhoused, sick, and orphaned kittens.”
Van Erdewyk plans to register the organization as a non-profit and will look into a brick-and-mortar site to show cats for adoption once she moves to Ohio. For now, the adoption process takes place in Mathews’ home in Sidney.
The adoption fees are $200 for kittens and $150 for adult cats. The organization partners with Flinn Veterinary Clinic in Sidney to ensure that their adoptees are spayed/neutered and up to date on vaccinations and exams before they are adopted. As a feral-friendly clinic, the organization can also take cats there as part of their TNR efforts.
“We are entirely dependent on donations and adoption fees. We’ve used GoFundMe for crowdsourcing, we have an Amazon registry for much-needed fostering supplies, and sometimes we get a donation here and there. But the adoption fees are essential,” Van Erdewyk said. “What some people might not know yet is that while $200 might seem steep compared to other rescues, this fee covers less than half of each animal’s rescue and fostering costs.”
It has also been helpful to the organization for people to spread the word about the work they do and the cats available for adoption.
“One of our favorite supporters is Greenhaus Coffee in Sidney. They have expressed so much support for us via social media and posting flyers for our adoptable kittens in their shop. We are so grateful for their support and look forward to creating more relationships with Sidney businesses,” Mathews said.
When asked what they look for in a suitable applicant to adopt their foster cats, Mathews and Van Erdewyk mentioned dedication and the ability to make a years long time commitment to their pet.
“To me, a good applicant is someone that is dedicated to loving their pet and providing the best care they can. You don’t need to have the most innovative toys or expensive cat food; you just have to create a home where your new pet will be loved above all else,” Mathews said.
“We look for adopters who understand that adopting a kitten is a 15-to-20-year commitment. We have a no-declaw and indoor-only policy as well. We also love to get applications from adopters who have other cats in their home or are interested in adopting a pair of kittens, though this is not a requirement,” Van Erdewyk said.
Although rescuing and fostering kittens is a multi-faceted process and emotionally challenging, Mathews said that she is proud to do it and feels that someone needs to be held accountable for stray cats.
“One of the most emotional parts of this work is forming such strong relationships with the kittens in my care. Just because they’re with me temporarily doesn’t mean I give any less love or connection than my permanent, resident pets. However, as Hannah Shaw says, ‘The goal is goodbye.’” Mathews said.
To donate, browse and apply for adoptable kittens, and read through rescue and fostering resources, visit The Kitten Koop’s website at thekittenkoop.com. More information can also be found on Petfinder. Soon, an adult female cat and her five kittens will be available for adoption.