Written by Megan Bayne – Co-founder and Director of Harvey’s Haven
Professional photography by Des Featherstone
The tiny tabby kitten’s front legs were crooked, and he was very weak. When I received the call about him in January of 2019 following his rescue by a feral cat organisation, we were simply told that he needed fostering and hand rearing… and that he possibly had “Down’s Syndrome”.
The four-week-old kitten weighed just 310g and had obvious skeletal issues, although he didn’t appear to have Down’s Syndrome. He was then diagnosed as having Radial Hypoplasia in both front legs; he was also very slow developmentally.
That kitten was named Harvey*, and it’s after this special little guy that this very special organisation was named.
A passion for special babies
Harvey’s Haven came to light when Emma Wagener and I discussed a passion we both have for rescue, especially the teeny, tiny neonatal kittens who have a fairly slim chance of surviving in shelters unless they have experienced bottle-raisers on volunteer staff.
It was then decided that Harvey’s Haven would be established to assist with the overflow of neonates, special needs kittens, and mother cats with kittens needing a safe haven.
While our team, made up of me and co-founders and directors Emma Wagener and Kara Ann Louw, have soft hearts, we all understand that there are points where tough decisions have to be made; this is why Harvey’s Haven is not only a Pro-Life rescue but a Pro-Quality of Life as well.
For differently abled paws
Our motto is “For differently abled paws”, because being a little crooked or a little different doesn’t mean that you’re less of a sentient being. It just means that you take the world in your stride a little differently.
This is what we aim to teach and portray in the things we do. We cannot do what we do without our awesome team and fosters and sponsors.
Lending a helping paw
Harvey’s Haven aims to lend a helping hand (paw) to other rescue organisations that may get in tiny, fragile little kittens but might not have the resources, funds or experience to raise them successfully.
We tend to take in the most fragile, from premature kittens to those with disabilities, be they physical or mental, and we do our very best to raise them and give them a chance at a good, loved life.
We’ll always try as hard as we can, but it’s impossible to save them all. Harvey’s Haven has a strict case-by-case rule where we judge the situation based on the kitten’s current state and prognosis. We’re also incredibly strict when it comes to testing and vetting the kittens. We recognise that cats are at risk to a huge amount of virus and disease, some being maternal or paternal, and that these are also contagious. While we advocate for second chances, we also accept that not all lives can be saved when it comes down to the above-mentioned diseases.
Harvey’s Haven stands for:
We’re firm believers in changing the way people see “at-risk” kittens and teaching them how to care for them properly. We hope to start an educational programme soon that will be available as workshops for veterinary staff and as a lesson for schools and children.
We work WITH other rescue organisations and local vets for the betterment of the fragile little souls that come into their care. We’re established to assist with the overflow of orphaned kittens.
Rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming.
A very common phrase heard in welfare, but we often get cases that need gentle rehabilitation and actual rehabilitation before they’re suitable for rehoming. We take as much time as we possibly can to get it right so that those kittens have the best foundation to build on.
And, unfortunately, a very real part of welfare that needs to be acknowledged. We’re advocates for only adopting out healthy kittens, which means that they’re free from FIV and FeLV (Feline “AIDS” and Feline Leukaemia), as both of these are contagious and cause a multitude of other health complications. It’s why we perform the correct testing when the kittens are of age to ensure that they’re healthy prior to finding their happily-ever-after. We will also never allow an animal to suffer when there’s no chance of helping it.
We are HUGE advocates of sterilisation. All our kittens are sterilised as soon as they can be. Some are done as early as 10 weeks old. We do try and help out families with cheaper sterilisations. Once we have a facility established, we’d love to host Spay-Days once every few weeks for those who can’t afford private sterilisation.
How YOU can help
We always desperately need foster parents for the fragile and at-risk kittens. With us working strictly out of foster homes and with a foster system, having a great set of helping hands makes what we do much easier.
- DONATE funds or items!
We’re currently working towards having our own facility, and this costs money. We do try and save as much as we can, but, taking the kinds of kittens we do, medical care and costs can skyrocket quickly, so we always need funding. Blankets, litter, food, medical supplies and all the extras (see below wish list) are a huge monthly cost for us.
We’re always looking for fun ideas and collaborations for fundraising. If you have a talent or resources, you can help. Raffles, events, auctions – all ideas are always welcome.
- Food (dry and wet) – we use Royal Canin formula, wet food and kibbles to raise our kittens. When they’re without their mom’s magic and amazing milk, we ensure that they get the very best nutrition. We also make use of IAMS Kitten food for older kittens and in our feral feeding assistance.
- Blankets and towels! Wowzers, we use tons of these with kittens! Fleecy baby blankets are great; they’re soft and dry quickly when washed.
- Puppy pads! We use these to line cages and crates. When the kittens start using the “loo” on their own and when they start weaning, things get messy.
- F10 disinfectants
- Syringes (5ml, 10ml and 20ml)
- Bowls, preferably stainless steel
- Litter trays and cat litter (clumping)
- Teddies (for snuggling) and kitten toys
- Small cat beds
- Revolution tick and flea product (pink pipette) and Frontline spray
- Dewormers (Milbemax and Antezole)
- Surgical gloves and masks
- Washing powders and detergents