When Torula Chanlett-Avery won a raffle for $500 at the Hinton Area Foundation’s spring fundraiser, she already knew where it would go—to Riverside Kitten Rescue (RKS). Torula saw this project needed support to maintain and find homes for the many kittens in their care. The Hinton Area Foundation (HAF) event called “Hats, Horses, and Hinton” was itself a successful fundraiser occasioned by the Kentucky Derby and in memory of Dorothy Jean Boley.
RKS is not a shelter but a foster care program out of Jeff and Krystle Adkins’ private home. It is a stepping stone for wild-born kittens, primarily that have had no mother or are able to be weaned from feral cats. Feral-born kittens have a 25 percent chance of survival.
Krystle Atkins is dedicated to giving those babies a chance. The rescue makes sure they receive the veterinary care they need to get healthy. The kittens are vaccinated and fixed before adopting them locally or transporting them to other non-profit rescues.
The key ingredient they provide is LOVE. Socializing kittens every day at their home and at monthly vendor events at Botany Tropicals helps these wild-born kittens socialize with many different people and become the most loving adoptable pets.
Riverside Kitten Rescue is funded by Krystle and Jeff. Together they facilitate this enormous and expensive commitment. They finance it in part with vendor events, supply drives, and frequent yard sales in Hilldale. Krystle says, “We are very lucky to have a local resident let us use their old garage building to store donations we collect and have yard sales once a month when there is good weather.” The rescue also has an Amazon Wishlist through their Facebook Page and TikTok where followers from all over the US have been able to send them kitten milk, food, and other supplies.
The rescue has a multi-pronged approach to the problem of feline overpopulation in Summers County. This epidemic will not be solved by adoption alone. So far RKR has assisted in the trapping and fixing of over 270 cats since they started in April 2022. They work with several groups to get vouchers and use grant funds specifically for Trap Neuter Release (TNR) from Summers County Humane Society ACWP, Greenbrier Humane Society, and soon Raleigh County Humane Society. Krystle said, “We thought with over 176 cats fixed in Summers County this past January thru March that we would see a slow start to kitten season, but within two weeks we went from two fosters to 33 fosters with a waitlist of over seven other people in need of our help.”
Right now it’s just Krystle and Jeff who house and care for litters of kittens. It takes several hours a day to clean and socialize with kittens every morning and evening. Bottle babies require constant care and feeding every two-three hours. Often the kittens that are surrendered are very sick, full of parasites, completely dehydrated, starved, in need of major surgery, or have special needs.
“We make sure to take in a limited number of animals so we can continue to provide a safe, sanitized place where they get the quality care they need. We have to tell people we are full on a daily basis, and only have a waitlist to offer them. It feels like we didn’t even make a dent with our TNR efforts this past winter, but this just proves that the problem is more than anyone realizes and needs a community solution,” says Krystle. They are applying for their non-profit status, but it is a lengthy and expensive process that will take about a year to complete.
Torula invited HAF director Scott Jarrett to visit Riverside Kitten Rescue to hand over the windfall to a most deserving recipient. Torula said, “I was so thrilled to be able to pass on this blessing. Krystle wants to put together foster kits and training for volunteers and this could supply medicines kittens often need to survive.” Krystle and Jeff know they need community help to solve this problem and hope to be able to train volunteers soon and start a foster program to expand. If you would like to volunteer in any capacity, need information, want to adopt, or surrender kittens please reach out via email at email@example.com.
RKR has donation drop-off locations in Hinton at Botany Tropicals and Avante Guarde Hair Studio. Follow them on Facebook and TikTok to see their available kittens and upcoming events. Krystle and Jeff both want to thank Torula and all of their local supporters that share their posts, attend events, and send food and supplies from our Amazon Wishlists. “Without the support of the community, we could not have helped the amount of kittens we have so far,” said the Adkins’.