Screamer was a kitten with issues. When displeased, his “meow” turned into a wail that earned him his name.
And that wasn’t the worst of it.
“When he was nervous, he’d pass gas and it wasn’t pleasant,” Stephanie Tetloff said. “A lot of people met him and were charmed, then they’d smell the gas and that was that.”
Tetloff, a veterinarian assistant at Parkway Animal Hospital in Parkland, founded the nonprofit Kitty Haven in 2001 with friend Cindi Hagerman, who since has moved. With the help of them and others, Kitty Haven has adopted out more than 1,100 kittens.
The list includes Screamer, though by the time he found a permanent home, he no longer was a kitten.
“An older married couple finally adopted him when he was 21/2 years old. I told the woman Screamer had outgrown his gas issue, but occasionally would still have a problem,” Tetloff said. “She said he’d fit right in with her husband, and they all went home happy.”
One of the rules at Kitty Haven: Kittens taken in are kept until they’re adopted, no matter how long it takes.
There are other rules, and Tetloff sticks to them — as do her partners, veterinarian technician Lana Clark and former veterinarian assistant Nicki Aloisio.
First, Kitty Haven takes in only kittens younger than 4 months old. And because people kept leaving kittens at the door of the animal hospital in Parkland, the clinic invoked another regulation: Any animals left in that manner are sent to the Humane Society.
If brought in properly, however, Kitty Haven kittens receive any needed medical treatment, and then are sent to foster homes.
“We have four foster homes,” Tetloff said. “We’ve taken in sick kittens, injured kittens. We’ve had kittens with broken jaws, kittens who needed a leg amputated. And we get them adopted.”
Why only kittens, not cats?
“We all foster with an adult cat in the home, because each of us has an adult cat as a pet,” Clark said. “They teach the kittens that they’re cats. If we brought in older cats, they might not mix with the adults we have. Kittens do.”
Finding the right match is an important part of the screening process.
“Before we complete an adoption, we interview the person or family to find out what their lifestyle is like so we can better match the kitten,” Tetloff said. “These cats have been hand-raised in foster homes, sometimes bottle-fed, named and taken care of.
“If there’s a lot of noise and activity in the home, one cat might not handle that well, while another might thrive. Some kittens need constant attention; others are fine being left alone.”
Nicki Aloisio loves kittens.
“I’ve fostered as many as 18 at once, and right now have 13,” she said. “They all have names and personalities. My sister will visit me in the evening, and the kittens will be sleeping from the foot of the ottoman to the headrest behind me on the chair.”
That’s another rule at Kitty Haven. Each kitty gets a name, and no two have ever been the same.
“We used to name kittens from a book of names, but we’ve also used the circumstances,” Tetloff said. “We had a litter found in a spare tire. We named them Pirelli, Dayton and Michelin, who we called ‘Mitch.’
“One litter was found in the bushes, so we named them Birch, Cedar, Cypress ” Clark said.
Everyone associated with the organization not only loves the work, they’ve all been patrons over the years.
“Our first successful adoption was placing two kittens, Katy and Matisse, who were left on the doorstep here in 2001,” Tetloff said.
Who adopted them?
“I did,” she said. “They’re both doing fine.”
• HOW TO ADOPT: Go online to KittyHavencats.com, pick out a kitten from the photos and contact the organization to arrange an interview.
• ADOPTION FEE: $125 for one cat, $200 for a pair and $275 for a trio. All animals have been treated for fleas and given their shots. The cost includes spaying or neutering when the kitten is old enough.
• HOW MANY TO CHOOSE FROM: “We’ve had as many as 38,” Stephanie Tetloff said. “Their photos are on the website.”
Larry LaRue: 253-597-8638