Nikki Martinez was always a dog person. That all changed one day when a kitten ran in front of her car on her way to a post-surgical doctor appointment. Feeling down and overly focused on herself after her surgery, Nikki poured her heart and soul into nursing that sickly kitten back to health, and eventually found it a new home. In the process, Nikki herself began to heal—and she found herself hooked on helping cats.
Today, Nikki fosters kittens, serves on the board of directors for a Las Vegas TNR organization called C5, traps community cat colonies with C5, manages a popular kitten Instagram page, and runs a side business called Fostering a Purpose. She specializes in caring for critical care and neonatal kittens, and has fostered hundreds of kittens over the years. It took her a while to see the connection between the kittens she was fostering and TNR, but once she did, she devoted even more of her energy to TNR. As she put it, “I’d picture a bucket that’s overflowing with water, maybe it has a hole in it and the water’s gushing out. You can either mop up the water, or you can put a plug in the hole—and TNR really puts the plug in the hole and stops these cats from breeding on the street, which ultimately stops kittens from suffering.”
In this interview, Nikki and Stacy talk trapping—strategy, trap and bait preferences, how to handle injured feral cats, whether there has ever been a cat Nikki couldn’t trap—and even using plumbing “snake” cameras to assist with trapping. Nikki loves working as a volunteer trapper for C5. “It’s such a satisfying feeling to know that these colonies of cats won’t be breeding anymore,” she tells Stacy.
Nikki also has an Instagram account for her foster kittens as a way to share knowledge and information about cats and cat overpopulation with folks who can’t help but click on her cute kitten pictures. The page has blown up and Nikki sees it as a great way to get people involved in fostering and TNR. As a result of her Instagram page and interest in purchasing and selling merchandise there, Nikki started Fostering a Purpose. The company sells high-quality cat-related apparel for people and donates a portion of the proceeds to feline welfare causes.
As part of C5, Nikki has been part of a big change for community cats in Las Vegas over the past decade. The group has TNRed over 35,000 cats, and since 2009, the euthanasia rate at the local municipal shelter has gone down an astounding 90%. “It’s just a small, simple organization with volunteers, making a huge impact in Las Vegas.”