Do you know the nursery rhyme about the three little kittens who lost their mittens? I'm very glad to report that they found their mittens eventually and received some tasty pie as a reward, although not before they got their mittens dirty and had to wash them… They were lucky little kittens as they had a Mother to provide the mittens and the pie, and who cared enough to give them a good lesson about being thankful for everything you have and taking care of it. Sadly, for homeless or feral kittens, reality is a little different.
It's really impossible to know how many homeless cats are living rough on the streets of our 'developed' part of the world today, although the number of wonderful people out there who are giving their love, time and money to caring for them is surely an indication that there are a lot. If you're a cat lover and active on social media, you will no doubt be aware of several of these amazing people and perhaps you support them. I follow a number of people who help cats in their neighbourhood, frequently working with only their own small resources to deliver the help the cats and kittens in their area need.
The large cat charities like Cats Protection in the UK, carry the main weight of this kind of 'work' with their army of volunteers, but there are countless other smaller charities and individuals out there who do the not inconsiderable rest. When you think that one female cat can be responsible for birthing as many as many as 18 kittens in a year (that's a possible 20,000 descendants in 5 years!), it's easy to see why the priority for all these efforts goes into neutering.
Sometimes all people like me can do is to offer encouragement or thanks on behalf of the cats the people are helping and that is really appreciated, but hard cash is also very much appreciated! It's really wonderful to see cats all over the world being brought back to health and rehomed via Instagram, although there are obviously some less cheerful stories shared too. The cats that they help can be cats who have previously had a home but have lost it for some reason, or they can be the descendants of these types of cats who we call 'feral' – cats who have never known a home. Carers may do a number of different things to help these cats, from feeding feral colonies as and when they have the resources to do so, to bottle rearing feral born kittens then getting them healthy, raising, domesticating, neutering and rehoming them, all at their own expense, unless they have donations from others to help.
When I can afford to donate (nowhere near as often as I'd like), these frontline individuals are the people I choose to help because they don't have marketing departments to help them get the message out to people like me who want to help them – they only have their own efforts on social media and good old fashioned word of mouth to raise awareness.
If you've read this far then I'm sure it's easy to see why I want to do something more to help. When thinking about what I could do within my means to help, I was inspired by the memory of the nursery rhyme about the 3 little kittens and their mittens and I dug out all my leftover balls of lovely soft merino wool and knitted up a stack of baby mittens. After the knitting, I then had to work out how to turn the mittens into cash for the kittens and really this is far from straightforward… At first I thought that this was something I'd like to keep separate from my small business as I didn't want anyone to think that I was fundraising by way of any kind of cynical marketing to promote myself, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to use my Etsy shop and social media accounts to get the word out, otherwise I was starting from nowhere, and that won't help the kittens.
The mittens I've knit so far are now listed in my Etsy shop and you can find them here.
I've also decided to add one of my crochet wraps to the items I'll sell to raise funds, because the wool I used to make it was gifted to me, so it feels right to do that.
My plan is to donate the whole sale price of each item, and then share here on my blog about what money has been raised and what I've done with it. If things go well, I'm hoping that I'll also be able to invite other knitty friends to get involved too, so fingers crossed (pun intended!) that everything sells out quickly and more little kittens will soon be tucking into their pie 😀
Cat photos from Pinterest