Here at Your Cat Backpack, we strongly believe that being a “cat person” means more than loving to cuddle and care for our furry friends. It means advocating for and supporting all cats around the world, whether they live with a loving family in their forever homes or in a colony on the streets.
Throughout the year, we offer our biggest discount to individuals and organizations who help cats by fostering, doing Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), and working with and for animal shelters and non-profits. We decided to launch our "Forever Home Heroes" program as a way to continue supporting animal welfare advocates with our words and wallets!
We asked our catstomers from around the world to nominate their favorite animal welfare organizations and individuals, who deserve recognition and financial support for the work that they do. We were blown away by the amazing nominations we received, and are thrilled to present our grand prize winner and top 10 nominees.
Quotes have been edited for length and clarity.
Forever Home Heroes winner: Nikki Martinez of C5 (Community Cat Coalition of Clark County) in Las Vegas, NV
Nikki, who is known and admired by animal lovers around the world for her work in fostering, TNR, and advocacy, has been helping cats and kittens since 2012. She shares daily doses of inspiration and encouragement, and photos and tales of fostering to her Instagram following of 324,000, and works with local TNR group C5, who has TNR’d over 35,000 cats and helped bring the euthanasia rate at their local municipal shelter down 90% since 2009.
Nikki received close to 3,500 nominations from people who have been impacted and inspired by her work in a variety of ways.
“I decided to adopt a black cat after Nikki conducted a small campaign to bring awareness to the difficulties of black cats being adopted,” says nominator Robbin Barnett. “Nikki changes the lives of both humans and cats.”
“Every day I see how much time, effort and heart she gives to kittens,” says Urszula Komorowska-Małyszko, who follows Nikki on Instagram. “It is a hard, full-time job, and not everyone could be so patient and careful. She always shares her knowledge and encourages us to help animals.”
“Nikki is an amazing person who inspires, even across the ocean!” says Ana Micaela Rodrigues Borges, who voted from Portugal for the Las Vegas-based advocate. “She saves so many lives, and she gives all of her energy to the kitties that she cares for and to educating and informing her followers of the importance of TNR and fostering. Nikki has a heart the size of a planet!”
“Nikki has helped so many cats and is truly an inspiration,” says nominator Isabelle Robinson. “Because of her, I will definitely be involved in fostering and TNR in the future.”
We are proud to award Nikki Martinez with a prize of $1,000 USD and a cat backpack for the hard work she does saving lives. Congratulations, Nikki!
We're also excited to highlight our 10 our runners up. They will each be gifted The Jackson Galaxy Convertible Cat Backpack Carrier, which they can use for a fundraising raffle or in their cat-saving work!
Catsbury Park is a cat cafe and non-profit rescue in Asbury Park, NJ, with a focus on taking in hard-to-adopt cats and cats with medical issues.
“Manager Jamie and owner DJ have put their hearts and souls into the cafe and their community through fostering and TNR,” says nominator Sally Williams. “I have been in the cat community for a long time as a volunteer, behaviorist, non-profit director and proud cat mom. I can’t imagine a more deserving place or two more deserving people.”
The Chris Griffey Memorial Feline Foundation is a non-profit in partnership with the Nova Cat Clinic in Arlington, VA that provides foster kittens with funds for veterinary services and adoption services.
“This organization goes above and beyond to provide resources and treatment to cats and kittens who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance,” says nominator Elizabeth Sidler. “From neonates to geriatrics, mystery cases to obvious injuries; this group gives every cat under their care the best treatment possible.”
Big Fix Grassroots Cat Rescue in Chatham, Ontario is a volunteer-run non-profit that rescues cats, does TNR, and offers an economical spay and neuter program.
“Kate of Big Fix Grassroots goes out of her way and far beyond to help any kitten or cat, even if she's full,” says nominator Michele Evoy. “She is a hero in my eyes. These cats will never suffer as long as she's around.”
Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) in Lower Mainland, British Columbia is a volunteer-driven, no-kill rescue who focuses on caring for very young, mainly bottle-feeding kittens. The volunteer-run organization is responsible for getting over 1,800 cats per year off the streets and thousands of feral cats spayed and neutered over the years.
“They provide excellent medical care, and all kitties are well loved in foster homes while waiting for a forever home.”
TinyKittens Society in Fort Langley, British Columbia has a motto, “rescuing locally, educating globally.”
At TinyKittens, their purpose is to change global perceptions about feral cats. They take on really tough cases, and tell their stories on social media and through livestreams, creating an emotional connection between everyday people and feral cats, generating an increase in compassion and empathy.
“This organization has been tireless and a trailblazer in the care and approach to the needs of feral cats. Their TNR methods and approaches to care and fostering to adoption is a template for others across the globe. Their DNA program, identifying and studying entire colonies and their members, is an incredible way to learn more about ferals and teaching how we can aid them in our own communities!”
Saving One Life in Tempe, Arizona, United States is a volunteer-run cat rescue and sanctuary and a no-kill rescue providing hospice care for their cats with terminal illnesses.
Nominator Jennifer says, “I have adopted two cats from them in the past year and they are so wonderful to work with. My cats are my life and Saving One Life saved mine!”
Cat People of Oahu in Honolulu County, Hawaii, United States provides information, education, and resources for individuals who own or care for pets, feral, and free-roaming cats.
Aisha says, "They are constantly saving cats in need on the island of Oahu. No matter the circumstances they will save an animal to ensure it's safety despite how it may affect their funding, which is entirely run on donations and fundraisers."
Hearts Alive Animal Village in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States started small in the fall of 2013 with Kendall’s Kupboard, a pet food bank.
In January of 2014, Hearts Alive Village rescued its first two dogs, Roxy and Diesel. Today, the organization has saved thousands of dogs and cats with the help of the community, The Village.
Alyssa says, "They are one of the very few no-kill shelters in Las Vegas that actually treats their animals amazingly!"
Crash’s Landing & Big Sids Sanctuary in Kent County, Michigan, United States is a nonprofit specializing in the rescue of injured at risk stray cats.
"I live in New York now, but I volunteered here for a few years before I moved away. The structure and organization of Crash’s is extraordinary, and the impact the volunteers make on the cats is unlike anything I’ve seen in all my years," says voter Nicollete.
Urban Cat Coalition in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States is dedicated to helping create a no-kill community by humanely reducing the homeless cat population through targeted trap-neuter-return (TNR).
Voter Erin shares, "Urban Cat Coalition is the only organization practicing TNR/RTF in the greater Milwaukee, WI area. They are 100% volunteer-run and have taken in over 1,000 cats since they were founded in 2016. The local low-cost TNR clinic closed in October (re-opening dependent on if/when they can hire two vets), which has greatly increased the burden on this organization, as they are now driving cats an extra 30 minutes away for surgery, and assisting individual members of the the public who want to TNR cats with this transportation as well."