A generous woman transformed a trailer in a feline sanctuary for aging cats. In her Acton, New York home, Isabela Nieves cares for twenty-five senior cats.
Nieves’ late ex-husband Dominic DiNapoli founded Tuffy’s Place in Yonkers in 1996. He then moved to the south and continued cat rescuing with Nieves’ help.
Before he died in 2015, he entrusted Nieves with running the cat sanctuary. Nieves promised she would continue his work, looking after the animals.
These days, Tuffy’s Place focuses more on retirement than rescues. According to Nieves, the sanctuary still occasionally helps with cat rescues.
“We don’t rescue much. But if I see a cat in the street without an owner or anything, I’m going to take him in. I can’t leave him in the street.”
The felines wander a single-wide trailer near her Afton house. They’re right across Nieves, who’s there all day.
She ensures her retirees have everything they need.
Moya, a 22-year-old black cat, is the sanctuary’s oldest resident. The black moggy has difficulty moving about due to arthritis.
Moya enjoys snoozing in the sun near the windows and snacking on cat treats. She spends her days at the cat shelter with twenty-five other elderly felines.
Among them is a 30-pound peach-colored cat named Piggy. According to her mistress, Piggy is the largest cat in the shelter. Her daily activities include eating and lounging.
The sanctuary is also home to a few young kittens. Mia, a tortoise-shell cat, was rescued from dogs. At two and a half years old, Mia is the refuge’s youngest resident.
A big responsibility
Nieves will gladly welcome visitors to the sanctuary. Sometimes, these cats find loving families, but most will spend the rest of their lives at the shelter.
The sanctuary manager is very selective about who gets to adopt a cat from her shelter. She told Binghamton Press.
“If I can find them a good home, I will. I have to know for sure.”
However, the manager is always on the lookout for donations and volunteers because handling a shelter is not an easy task. She said:
“We are looking for people that can help continue and maintain it. “
Volunteers will get the opportunity to interact with the many cats in the house.
Isabela Nieves admitted to sometimes feeling overwhelmed. She wonders if she should give up, then she remembers her promise and her love for these critters.
” The love for the cats keeps me going. I can’t see myself without them. Those are my babies.”