Hillsdale Felines and Friends is a new nonprofit organization that rescues stray cats in the community. Its new facility is scheduled to be finished soon, according to President and Treasurer Kátia Sherman.
“It’s already up and going — we are just finishing up electrical stuff,” Sherman said. “I am going to begin to move furniture and cats over there.” She noted that she currently has 30 cats staying at her house, and another 12 outside of her home.
Sherman, who is also an assistant professor of Spanish at Hillsdale College, said her interest in creating this program began after noticing a large problem with stray cats in the Hillsdale area.
“When I began to realize the extent of the problem, I decided to do something about it,” she said. “The tax sale from the county of Hillsdale happens every year. I was informed that the two empty lots behind my house were going to be auctioned in the county tax sale. I went and was able to purchase those two lots.”
Sherman talked through some of the other steps involved in starting the organization. She noted that Hillsdale Felines and Friends is a nonprofit organization, and has tax exemption status with the IRS. The final step is to become an officially licensed cats-only animal shelter.
Though the facility is still in progress, the program has already been helping rescue cats by helping them find homes or simply caring for them.
Director Sandy Puvogel, professor of Spanish, said she has also helped rescue stray cats in the community.
“I’ve had neighbors who had cats but couldn’t handle getting them neutered and spayed or keep them up to date on vaccines,” Puvogel said. “I helped when I could to take the cats in.” The idea is to help the community in this way — to help the cats first and foremost. I think there are a lot of street cats like that who don’t have a home and we are hoping to provide various things for them.”
Both Sherman and Puvogel said they hope their love for cats draws interest and support from students and from the Hillsdale community.
“We are launching a $5 fundraiser challenge in which people go in through our website and set up a recurring monthly donation of $5,” Sherman said. “We hope that people understand that if everyone who follows us on Instagram or visits our website were to give $5 per month, most of our costs would be taken care of. It takes a large amount of individuals each giving a tiny bit.”
Sherman and Puvogel also stressed the importance of student volunteers in maintaining the program.
“A lot of students really love animals and would like to use some of their volunteer hours to devote to animals,” Puvogel said.
According to Sherman, there are students already interested in volunteering.
“I have about 35 to 40 students who have emailed me that are willing to volunteer,” she said. “The shelter is going to be about one block from Christ Church, so it’s very easy to get to on foot.”
Those interested in helping with Hillsdale Felines and Friends can visit their website at www.hillsdalefelinesandfriends.org.