Our History

In 1992, a few people working on the Portland waterfront noticed about a dozen cats and kittens waiting for food every day outside a restaurant that had recently closed. One woman began feeding them. Others began to trap, neuter, and vaccinate the cats, returning them to the colony, where they had shelter and were once again being fed every day. Some began fostering the kittens and friendly cats in their homes, and found permanent homes for them. Within a couple of years, nearly 50 waterfront cats and kittens had been neutered and returned to the colony or adopted.

The success of this effort led to thoughts of forming an official group dedicated to helping feral cats — undomesticated cats born "in the wild," or outside of homes — in the Greater Portland area. In January 1993, a dozen interested people met at a restaurant and formed "Friends of Feral Felines." The group's stated goals were to help feral cats by neutering and returning them to established colonies, taming kittens for placement, and finding barns or other sanctuaries for unadoptable adults who had to be relocated.
Since then, FoFF has fulfilled these goals and helped hundreds of feral cats each year throughout southern Maine. Membership has grown from a handful to over 100 active volunteers and a mailing list of over 1,000 supporters. We have become a non-profit organization with an office in Portland and a network of veterinarians in Cumberland and York Counties who are a vital resource in our work. Donations are tax-deductible, and they come from all over New England and the United States.

Our Work Is Here to Stay — But More People Are Helping All the Time

This work is endless, heartbreaking, and inspiring all at once. Each week we are called to help cats, everywhere from camps on Sebago Lake, to farms in Newfield, to backyards in Portland. We answer every call, because FoFF is the only group in Maine devoted solely to the cause of feral cats. Shelters, overflowing with domestic cats, often must euthanize ferals. No-kill shelters have limited space for unadoptables. For most adult ferals, the best help we can offer is to neuter them and allow them to remain in their established colonies, or relocate them to safe barns with cat lovers.
Working to achieve our goals involves thousands of donated hours yearly in trapping, fostering, feeding, phone work, and fundraising. It also involves piles of veterinary bills, as almost every cat gets the "full treatment"—feline leukemia and FIV testing, spaying or neutering, and vaccinations. Because most of the cats we help are not adoptable, we cannot recoup these expenses in adoption fees. We spay or neuter every cat before adoption, recognizing the seriousness of the cat overpopulation crisis. Veterinary expenses and cat care comprise over eighty percent of our annual expenses.
To meet our expenses, we hold yard sales, bake sales, plant sales, book sales, fundraisers at restaurants such as Uno's, O'Natural's, and Flatbread Baking Co., and we sell merchandise at various stores that support our efforts and at cat shows. We also ask committed cat lovers to help us out with donations in any amount possible. We offer a line of merchandise featuring our heart-tugging mother/kitten logo on sweatshirts, tee's, mugs, aprons, and book bags.

FoFF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and has existed since 1993. All donations are tax-deductible, much needed, and greatly appreciated. Please give today — Thank You!

Our Future

FoFF is an all-volunteer organization that depends on your support to allow us to continue to help Maine's most needy and neglected cats. People regularly tell us "I called several places, and no one, except you, would help!" We want to continue to be there to end the suffering of feral cats by stabilizing colonies and finding homes for adoptable, rescued cats and kittens. And we will be, with your generous support.

A Word about Our Illustration

In FoFF's early years, Annie Wadleigh, a Portland artist and poet with "an abiding love for animals," responded to FoFF's call for volunteers. She offered to draw for the organization and began by sketching her cat Merwin, who she had found and rescued as a dirty, starving kitten on the steps of Portland's First Parish Church. Annie imagined Merwin's feral mother carrying him through the city's streets.

Annie's illustration of Merwin and his mother has been used on many of FoFF's materials and is now a very familiar image to FoFF supporters. Thank you, Annie!