Animal Lovers Needed This Weekend

Successful animal sanctuary needs your help moving to new location.


Three years ago, I did a story for the about Big Sky Ranch/CATNIP Foundation. Located in Folsom on a bucolic 10-acre sanctuary, Big Sky Ranch is home to more than 200 animals, many of whom have been given another chance at life by the organization’s founders, Dr. Catherine Wilbert and Sharon Schluter.

When I awoke the day of the interview, I did not desire a cat in my life, but that day I drove home from the interview with a calico cat by my side. My life was about to be deeply enriched by my sweet Chicory.

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That’s the power of Big Sky Ranch — the devotion, compassion and enthusiasm of this organization to animal welfare is contagious in the absolutely best way.

Big Sky Ranch/CATNIP Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit animal welfare organization devoted to providing valuable programs with the goal of lowering the number of animals entering shelters and eventually being euthanized.

“This has been our most impactful year and our most challenging year,” says Wilbert. “Multiple hurricanes, on top of COVID-19, on top of an already struggling area for access to care for animals, has stretched out every resource. Close to 3,000 animals in need have come through our care, many with desperate situations and critical needs. We work hard for our community and our state and have a huge impact on the lives of pet owners and their animals, as well as the animals unfortunate enough to have lost their owners, but we can only keep up at this pace with your help.”

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Some good news is that with help from the community, CATNIP Foundation at Big Sky Ranch is expanding. It has a new and freshly renovated facility which will be used as a low-cost clinic, cat cafe and adoption center.

This weekend, Dec. 5 and 6, the organization will be moving into the space and is asking for volunteers to help with things like packing, transporting and unloading boxes.

“This expansion is an event that would benefit from all hands on deck,” says Ella DiResto,

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the organization’s volunteer coordinator. “People are needed to help with transportation of supplies from the ranch to the new location. We could also use help from anyone who knows how to install simple appliances such as light switches, and help with cleaning.”


Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up at this link.


A Clever Name:

CATNIP is a clever acronym standing for Care, Advocacy and Treatment of Neglected and Indigent Pets. It helps the St. Tammany area by reducing the unnecessary killing of animals in shelters.

Other Programs:

Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR)  —A big focus for the organization, this program uses a universally accepted best practice means by which outdoor cat populations are kept safe, healthy and population-controlled.

Outdoor cats are trapped, spayed/neutered, provided with necessary medical care, and released where they were caught to live healthy, productive lives. Managed colonies/communities of outdoor cats are spared the suffering of overpopulation and disease, a humane outcome that provides for the cats themselves and the communities they inhabit.

The foundation also has other innovative outreach programs, such as its Barn Cat Program. This program pairs suitable cats with families or farms that need a superstar mouser to live outdoors on their property.

“Some of the cats we rescue at CATNIP are a little wary of humans, and given their circumstances it’s completely understandable,” says Wilbert. “They can still be a productive member of a family, however, by taking on the job as a barn cat.”


Seniors For Seniors — this program pairs senior cats with senior citizens living in assisted living or memory care centers.

“Year over year, we double our impact,” says Wilbert. “We create and embrace new and innovative programs as alternatives to shelter intake and have proudly increased live outcomes in this region with both aggressive spay/neuter and shelter diversion.”



Big Sky Ranch seeks to promote and nurture the well-being of people, animals and the planet. Working in St. Tammany Parish and south Louisiana, Big Sky Ranch’s CATNIP Foundation will reduce the unnecessary killing of animals in shelters and improve quality of life for animals and their people, indoors and out. The organization works with the public, partner organizations and municipal agencies to innovate, support and model efforts to create no-kill communities and remove the need for animal shelters and sanctuaries.



Big Sky Ranch / CATNIP Foundation

15442 Jack Fork Road

Folsom, LA  70437


New Facility:  82060 Hwy 25,








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