By Hope Martinez, Columbian news assistant
Published: March 18, 2023
Photos by Amanda Cowan/The Columbian
Avid readers of the In Your Neighborhood section of the Sunday paper, the name Furry Friends is likely to ring a bell.
Furry Friends is a nonprofit no-kill cat rescue and adoption organization based in Vancouver. Serving the greater Vancouver-Portland metro area, Furry Friends seeks to provide local cats in need with proper medical and emotional care while waiting for a forever home, rescuing abused, abandoned, or otherwise unhoused or unadopted cats with a safe place to stay while searching for their perfect human companion.
While primarily a volunteer-run organization, one stand-out kitty hero is Jenn Hutchman, executive director of Furry Friends and the shelter’s first full time employee.
As executive director, Hutchman works closely with nearly every aspect of shelter business, from overseeing volunteers and staff, working in community response and facilitating adoptions to more hands-on aspects like working directly with the cats themselves. She fosters many of Furry Friend’s feline visitors in her own home to help increase their social skills and adoptability.
“Its an incredible feeling to see timid and shy cats blossom into their true personalities after receiving proper medical care and a little extra love and attention,” Hutchman said. “Helping match up them with their perfect adopters afterward is truly the icing on the cake.”
Hutchman has had a long history of loving and caring for cats in need prior to her work with Furry Friends. She spent years independently fostering and rehoming young kittens, which inspired her to begin volunteering in 2019.
While she started out simply aiding in adoptions, Hutchman’s previous foster experience quickly led her to become the shelter’s primary kitten foster parent, hand-rearing and bottle feeding newborn kittens.
“Looking after teeny-tiny kittens naturally became one of my absolute favorite aspects of the job from the jump,” Hutchman said. “Now, after having cared for over 300 bottle kittens, I still never get tired of watching them grow. It really is a miraculous experience!”
Even with all the work she was already doing, Hutchman knew that there was more she could give to these cats in need. In 2020, she trained under a veterinarian to receive her vet assisting certificate, which allowed her to get more involved in the shelter’s medical program. She volunteers at local spay and neuter clinics on the weekends.
Since no cat rescue is complete without the help of a loving family to give Hutchman’s furry friends a new forever home, Hutchman encourages cat lovers to reach out to schedule a visit, whether they’re looking to adopt a new kitty family member or looking for support for the beloved pets they already have.