About CatVando

CatVando works toward the humane management and reduction of street cats, stray and feral, through a Trap Neuter Return (TNR) program. We work with communities to address the issue of street cats, provide support to cat care givers and use the opportunity to teach respect for all of life and can help to counteract violence at it’s core. As a Cook County Sponsoring Agency, we are authorized to coordinate, establish and register feral cat colonies and their caretakers. CatVando has volunteered to do this and we do not receive any funding from the county.

  • Work with individuals, communities and municipalities to perform and coordinate TNR efforts.
  • Provide education about TNR, free-roaming cats and cat deterrents.
  • Provide TNR assistance and equipment for yard or neighborhood cats.
  • Assist and encourage getting indoor cats (and dogs) spayed or neutered and vaccinated and connect to low cost spay/neuter, vaccination clinics.
  • Feed multiple colonies, while seeking and educating feeders or ‘Colony Managers.’ 
  • Work with youth groups, churches, and mentoring groups to build cat shelters.
  • Free trap/neuter/spay training is held in various communities. We also lend people humane traps. Many other organizations charge a fee.  

How CatVando Began

In 2004, founder Ellen Miles moved to Maywood, Illinois, where cats were trying to get into her home. Ellen learned the previous occupants had been feeding them. Over the next 4-5 months, she took 19 cats to be neutered or spayed from her yard. Ellen met another individual who had been feeding cats in the early morning hours in her neighborhood. Together they TNR’d 55 cats in 2005. CatVando was born out of those efforts. TNR evolved into so much more, as cries for rescue and medical help poured in. So additionally, we care for many sick, injured, lost or abandoned companion cats, waiting for their forever homes and ferals. Currently, CatVando has over 700 registered colonies.

We serve a number of diverse, low-income communities. Physical ability of caretakers vary but many are seniors. We are often the first line of rescue in these streets: the only resource for the communities, cats and those who love them. CatVando is hands-on, helping caregivers who are elderly, handicapped or at an economic disadvantage and can’t afford the veterinary fees, such as trapping cats, taking them to the vet for neutering/spaying, feeding or supplying food, financial assistance, adoptions and more. Too many times seniors misunderstand and initially resist our assistance. Years of threats and complaints to municipalities have taught them not to trust. Many times the cats are these folks only connection with the outside world.

Meet Our Board

Ellen Miles

Founder of CatVando, Ellen has an entrepreneurial spirit and the vision to see what needs to done and works tirelessly to accomplish those goals. Her background includes several years of publication both her own county-wide publication in Douglas County, Oregon. Ellen has experience in startup and management and photography, and she has been a resident manager and caretaker at a pilot program for people with traumatic brain injury. She has an interest in natural healing and is involved with herbals, flower essences for animals and people, as well training in Healing Touch (energy work) for people and animals. Above all, Ellen has compassion for helping animals and a can-do attitude, which has helped CatVando grow.

Stephanie Skrine

An animal lover all her life, Stephanie has been involved in rescue for more than 30 years. She's a professional groomer and massage therapist and shares her life with her adopted dog, Pinto.

Paulette Musso

In 2012, Paulette's mother entered a nursing home and could no longer care for free-roaming cats. Being a compassionate person, Paulette started looking after them. In June of 2012, Paulette received assistance from CatVando in establishing a colony, resulting in medical treatment and TNR of over 20 cats. Paulette kept such good track of her colony paperwork, she is meticulous, detail oriented and dedicate so in 2013 she became our Treasurer. She continues to work part-time in order to financially care for her large cat colony.

Iris Ledford

Iris has a B.A. in Business Management and spent decades working in advertising, sales and management within the newspaper industry. Iris been interested in animal welfare since childhood, assisting with rescue for over 40 years.

Magdalen Stepek

Magdalen been with CatVando since the summer of 2009. She is a family medicine physician and has used her knowledge with some of the medical needs of the CatVando residents. Over the years, she has been involved in several animal activities on behalf of CatVando. In the past two years, she has been more involved with adoption follow-ups. Magdalen lives with her husband, their three dogs and four rambunctious cats in Brookfield, WI.