Photo credit: Andrew Marttila
Tiny but Mighty
is all about saving the lives of the most vulnerable felines, orphaned kittens. This book is so much more than just a collection of fun rescue stories or a peek into my feline-filled world — it’s really an invitation to join me in saving little lives, and to recognize that each of us can make a big difference for animals in our own way! This playlist contains songs that remind me of the heart of animal rescue: the desire to protect the innocent, the hardship of living with a compassionate heart, and the fight to make the world a safer place.
“Ship in a Bottle” by Bright Eyes
“I wanna be the surgeon that cuts you open, that fixes all of life’s mistakes. I wanna be the house that you were raised in, the only place that you feel safe.” Conor Oberst is a master lyricist and the opening lines to this song really strike a chord with me. Holding a tiny orphan kitten in your hands and knowing that her life is completely dependent on you, how can you want your hands to be anything but the warmest, safest space of all?
“Asleep on a Sunbeam” by Belle and Sebastian
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This is a great album for cleaning your house (or your kitten nursery!). I like to put this on as I’m going through my morning routine: cleaning, scoopin’ poop, and bottle-feeding my beautiful little kittens. This song has some lovely lines that remind me of the innocence I see when I peek into the incubator at my sleeping foster babies. “I could watch the dreams flicker in your eyes. Lying here asleep on a sunbeam, I wonder if you realize you fascinate me so.”
“Life and Death” by RVIVR
Everything RVIVR does is just so heartfelt. I chose this song because it’s all about calling attention to injustice that is going unseen. So much of my work is about advocating for an underserved population in a fun and palatable way, but at the heart of it I honestly have so much sadness and rage over the fact that innocent lives are being lost simply due to public ignorance. “We live a lie that’s safe and clean” really resonates for me and the work I do with kittens, particularly because of the ways the animal welfare movement has traditionally obscured public awareness of what is truly happening to our most vulnerable feline populations.
“You Can Get It If You Really Want” by Desmond Dekker
A few years ago I took up running (phew... not an easy task for me!) and this was my number one motivational jam. It’s such a positive song all about working hard for what you want — and succeeding. Animal welfare can feel like an uphill battle, but we are making great strides all of the time, and it’s so important to keep our eyes on the horizon and keep going. The two things that unite all animal rescuers are the belief that we have what it takes to save lives, and the action to make it really happen. This song is definitely a good reminder that wanting isn’t enough. “You must try — try and try, try and try.”
“We’re Going to Be Friends” by The White Stripes
I rescue a lot of singleton orphans who have never met another kitten, and one of my favorite things to do is to play matchmaker and find them a best friend! There is nothing more tender than watching a friendship form on the schoolyard — or in my case, on a kitten climber. Their eyes are so wide with wonder as they nervously play for the very first time, but before you know it, they’ve completely melted into a cuddle puddle together! This ditty perfectly captures the joy of a new relationship.
“Line of Best Fit” by Death Cab for Cutie
Ugh, this is a great bummer of a song. I love how it just absolutely drags. Animal welfare can feel like a gleeful ukulele, or like a droning echo that never seems to end. That’s why I’ve dedicated an entire chapter of my book to understanding the challenges that come with rescue — compassion fatigue and burnout — and to learning how to be resilient both for ourselves and for the animals.
“My Better Half” by One Last Wish
This song is all about taking chances and leading with your heart, even in a culture that is doing its best to drag you down. Lyrically, this song makes me feel like even if I’m standing alone, I can still stand tall in what I know to be true. I love the idea of risking it all, because “life should be a chance to defeat statistics.” When it comes to animal suffering, the statistics are staggering, and yet each of us has a chance to change them, one life at a time.
“Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey
This. Is. My. JAM (when it comes to saying goodbye to a foster baby). Adoption is such a bittersweet celebration. The mood of an adoption is upbeat like a pop song, because you’re introducing someone to their new best friend, but it’s also emotional because you’re parting ways with someone you loved “for a moment in time.” I have sung this song to more kittens than I can begin to count!
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, also known as Kitten Lady, is a professional kitten rescuer, humane educator, and unwavering animal advocate who has dedicated her life to finding innovative ways to protect animals. She strives to create global change in the way we perceive and treat the tiniest and most vulnerable felines through educational media, training resources, and instructional workshops and consulting services that help individuals and animal shelters learn how to save the lives of kittens. Shaw has been featured as a guest expert on Animal Planet
and was awarded the 2017 Advocate of the Year award by CatCon Worldwide. She is also the founder of a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Orphan Kitten Club, which provides rescue and critical care services to orphaned neonatal kittens. She lives in California with her partner, Andrew Martilla, three cats, and an endless rotation of foster kittens.