About Us

Our Mission

Gifford Cat Shelter Front Side Angle

The mission of Gifford Cat Shelter is to provide a safe haven for abandoned, stray, abused, neglected, unwanted and injured cats with the goal of re-homing and ending the needless killing of community and companion cats.

Founded in 1884 and sponsored by Ellen Gifford, the shelter was a pioneer in creating an environment that did not confine animals to small, movement-restricting cages.  Originally a shelter for all animals, Gifford eventually became a shelter for cats.
EIN: 04-2239741


We are open to the public Thursdays 4:00 – 7:30PM and Saturdays & Sundays 1:00 – 4:00PM.

We would be happy to schedule a visit for you outside of these times but please call us at 617-787-8872 in advance to do so.

The shelter is staffed 7 days a week from 8:00AM to 4:00PM.  During these hours our staff and volunteers are busy cleaning the shelter and caring for our cats.  An appointment will ensure that we have someone available to host you.


The staff at Gifford always welcomes the opportunity to educate the community about a broad range of animal welfare issues, particularly those related to adoption, cat care and behavior.

We are happy to arrange shelter tours and group volunteers opportunities for school, community and other organizations.  In addition to meeting the cats and learning about the Shelter, we will cater your visit to your group’s interests and needs.  Many groups kindly contribute cat food, money, supplies, and their time.

If your group would like to tour Gifford or have your group volunteer, please email us. Be certain to include day and evening phone numbers so that we may be in touch with you.

What Makes Gifford Different from Other Shelters

  • As the first cageless, no-kill shelter in the United States Gifford has cared for and nurtured homeless cats in preparation for healthy, loving, permanent new homes for nearly 130 years.
  • Approximately 75% of the hundreds of cats we help each year are rescued from homelessness, hoarders, and abandonment.
  • Our cats roam freely within our facility and able to play, exercise, and socialize with other cats.  The cat housing spaces are bright, open environments with plenty of windows for napping and bird-watching.
  • We do not euthanize cats in order to make room for more homeless cats, solely on the basis of age, or due to a medical condition that is humanely treatable.
  • We use every available human and financial resource to care for sick cats whose curable or treatable disease or condition might result in euthanasia at another shelter.
  • We have designated housing areas for adoptable cats with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus(FIV) and other special needs.
  • Staff and volunteers work tirelessly to socialize and prepare every cat for a permanent home.
  • We support adopters after adoption to ensure a smooth transition to your home.  We want you and your new cat(s) to be happy!


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