Nestled in the small community of Englewood, Florida is Puffy Paws Kitty Haven, also known as The Haven and The World’s Greatest Cathouse. It’s here that husband and wife team Rick and Chrissy Kingston made their dream come true by caring for kitties with feline leukemia, FIV positive cats, feral cats, unadoptable kitties, one eye cats, senior kitties, kitties that do not use their litter box, abused kitties, cats with neurological disorders, and more basically unwanted and unadoptable kitties that would be euthanized elsewhere.
On November 20, 2016, Puffy Paws celebrated ten years as a non-profit, although their cage-free rescue unofficially began out of their home 18 years ago. The Kingston’s posted a special thank you on their Facebook page to pay tribute to those who have kept Puffy Paws operating day to day.
“Thousands of special needs kitties, passed through the doors and lived the best life they ever had all because of your kind hearts. What a day of reflection for Chrissy and I. All the little souls that are over the Rainbow Bridge yet they knew what love was for the time they were with us. All because of your kind hearts. The only celebration we did was we took in two feline leukemia kitties today.”
Rick and Chrissy have created The Haven based on the needs of their resident cats by separating them into their very own living quarters. The 2700 square foot “Haven Home” houses their healthy adoptable kitties and their permanent residents who have physical, emotional and behavioral problems. The Kitty Angel Club & The Hospitably Room is housed in their second building. It is 800 square foot and 400 square foot of it is solely use for the kitties with feline leukemia, which they nick-named “The Kitty Angel Club” because all the precious fur-babies are living angels who are living out their lives in a cage-free cat heaven. A 400 square foot area in the second half of the building is called The Hospitably Room, where family & friends of the Kingston’s can hang out and chill with the kitties while enjoying a cup of coffee or a cold soda.
The business center they operate at another location is used for all business matters, including fundraising and a pop culture antique museum. Cats surrendered by their owner are also accepted here. The center also boasts an off-site quarantine room, which has made it possible to save 100’s of kitties throughout the years because they could quarantine them at the center’s office.
It takes 16-20 hours a day of teamwork to accomplish caring for the cats and handling the financial end of their rescue. Rick runs the business center. He raises funds on-line and runs to the vet. He is the kitties webmaster. He does all the graphic artwork. Rick updates on Facebook and other social media sites. He picks up the kitties daily supplies from Walmart, he pays the bills. Rick puts out the SOS’s for help. He puts out all the fires that pop up daily. Rick is Chrissy’s venting post. Rick is the fixer.
Chrissy hauls in 600 pounds of cat litter around the Haven daily and takes in back out. She washes over 20 cat litter boxes daily. Every four hours she puts out the wet cat food at 10 feeding stations, vacuums, mops and dusts daily. She gives out meds, brushes the kitties. Chrissy also tends to the sick ones and runs to the vet and the store for supplies. She does this day in and day out. Rick says Chrissy has the strength of 1,000 men.
Folks who have been misleading the Englewood community for years in their endeavors of animal rescue have tried to shut Puffy Paws Kitty Haven down on several occasions. The story published by Englewood Edge back in 2009 tells how a dumpster placed outside their home almost shut them down. By the order of Sarasota County Code Enforcement, the Kingston’s may provide the kitties their loving home to live in yet they can not have any volunteers, adoptions or surrenders at the Haven itself. The code means no open houses where people can come and meet the cats and has limited who can come into and out of their home.
Puffy Paws depend on donations each day to remain operational. Approximately $137.26 in wet and dry food for one day and $135.80 for the 20 bags of litter, then add in costs for everything else involved in running their rescue, and you’re looking at a total of over $30,000 per month. The priority of incoming funds are in this order: the kitties daily needs, cat food, vet care and operating expenses. After that, funds are used for the maintenance and improvement of the Haven for the kitties and the care and maintenance of the vehicles. Rick and Chrissy don’t take a salary for their hard work. They believe their reward will come one day in heaven.
This couple realizes the necessity of total transparency in where their funds are spent. Receipts, as well as everything Puffy Paws, are posted on their Facebook page as well as their website. Please check out this wonderful rescue and donate if you can.