Greetings from the Executive Director (and what we’re up to)!
Updated: Oct 10
Hi! My name is Alisse Russell and I’m the Executive Director of PUFF Cat Rescue.
I founded PUFF in 2019 from my living room couch. I had realized our local foster-based rescues had limited programs for feral and community cats, and decided I needed to do something about it. I started a Facebook page, set up a basic website, and started talking.
One thing I realized early on: people really, really love cats and want to help them. The PUFF Facebook page was live for maybe a week before I got my first “can you help me?” message. I had to decide then and there if I was serious about doing this. I decided I am.
Now, just over a year later, we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
PUFF was born out of my need to stop the cycle of community cat overpopulation in my city, but in the past year we’ve done so much more than I ever expected, and none of it would have been possible if we didn’t have the support we’ve been blessed with.
Good things are in store and I’m excited to share a few of those things with you now!
Our foster program got off to an amazing start in 2019 when little miss Daisy entered my foster room. Since then, we’ve fostered 17 more cats and kittens who have grown and thrived in our care!
But these cats we’ve loved and cared for all came from somewhere, right? We have to stop the flow. And that’s where our TNR program comes in!
TNR stands for “trap-neuter-return” and it is the answer to community cat overpopulation. Community cats are the cats you see in your neighborhood and around town -- and they are constantly breeding. Millions of kittens are born every year, and 80% of them come from community cats.
Stray, friendly, and feral, every community is full of cats who need help!
TNR involves humanely trapping community cats in a live trap, like this one from Havahart that we used to trap Mama Salem last October. Then we take them to get spayed or neutered, and while they’re under the anesthesia, the vet snips a small sliver off the top of their ear, giving them a harmless, fancy eartip that will let people know they don’t need to be trapped again!
Since feral cats can’t live happily or comfortably with people, after they’re fixed, they’re returned to their outdoor home.
Salem was able to be socialized and now lives with a family she loves, but most feral cats will never be comfortable living with people. TNR is the only humane and effective method of controlling community cat populations; it means they can live their lives on their terms, without creating hundreds of thousands more kittens.
So this year, we’re focusing the bulk of our efforts on TNR. We’re building relationships with feral spay-and-neuter clinics around the country, and raising awareness around TNR and community cat issues.
For the cats we meet who are able to be socialized, we’re expanding our foster program! We’re recruiting new volunteer foster parents to join the PUFF team and care for the kitties until they’re ready for their forever homes!
Click here to learn how to join our volunteer team as a TNR trapper or foster parent!
In addition the the hands-on work of TNR and fostering, we’re also excited to be working on our community outreach initiative in the form of this blog!
Community doesn’t just mean local anymore. With the internet connecting people on the opposite side of the world instantaneously, community has brought on a new meaning to us: the rescue community!
We want to use this blog as an opportunity to showcase some of our favorite rescue stories, and shine a spotlight on our kitties. We’ll be highlighting our collabs with other rescues to spread the good word, and taking you through the rescue life.
We are also developing a series of workshops, which will be held live online and will be free to the public! These workshops are not meant to be totally rescue-oriented, but you-oriented. Meaning, while we’re definitely going to show you how to set a humane trap right, we want to help you understand the community cats in your neighborhood - and empower you to help them!
The first step to fixing a problem is recognizing the problem. In rescue, the problem is that not enough people are aware of the problem. Cats are sneaky and and go unseen- if you can’t see it, it isn’t a problem, right?
Unfortunately, no, it’s still a problem. So we want to reach out to our communities and get more people involved!
Keep an eye on our Facebook page for opportunities to connect!
What do you do when you find an orphan kitten and have no idea how to help them?
What do you do when your rescue is already overloaded but someone brings you a pair of orphaned kittens?
What do you do when you realize the small family of cats that lived in your back yard became a whole feral cat colony?
We know that there are a lot of resources available, but we also know they can be hard to access, or even impossible depending on where you live and what you yourself can manage. The fact is that different states have different attitudes and laws toward animal welfare, and some states are seriously underfunded and overpopulated, while others have empty cages in their municipal shelters.
We need to fix that.
One of the most exciting initiatives we are taking this year is our rescue network. We are building a US-based database of shelters, rescues, veterinarians and specialists, and more. Our goal is to streamline all of our resources and connections into one platform to make it easy to find and connect with rescuers across the US.
We can't do this without you
Truly, we can’t.
Our foster program got off to an amazing start in 2019 when little miss Daisy entered my foster room. Since then, we’ve fostered 17 more cats and kittens who have thrived in our care.
From individual cash donations, to sending items off our Amazon wishlist, to spearheading a collaboration fundraiser, our supporters have showed us from the start that they love these furry babies as much as we do.
I can’t thank you all enough. From the bottom of my heart, I am so grateful for you.
I appreciate you.
Alisse Russell is a lifelong cat lady and volunteer TNR trapper turned nonprofit rescue founder and director. Connect with Alisse and the rest of the PUFF team here!