Volunteer Highlight: Gianna Commisso
Updated: Jun 5
According to her mother, Cat by Cat’s youngest volunteer, Gianna Commisso, “adores animals and wants to save them all.” Gianna, age 13 and about to enter high school, wants to become a veterinarian or vet tech.
Gianna and her mother, Jenn (also a Cat by Cat volunteer), live in Akron. They got involved during the Batavia Project In March/April 2022, when somewhere between 60 and 100 cats and kittens were trapped and received medical treatment, including spay/neuter. Some were relocated to barn homes, others stayed at the Cat by Cat shelter.
As a Cat by Cat volunteer, Gianna has become known for her relentless efforts to find missing cats. First there was Chella, an escaped community cat, and then there was Panther, another community cat who had been placed in an adoptive home but got out and disappeared.
In both instances, Gianna established a social media campaign aimed at recovering the lost kitties. She posted “lost cat” notices on WNY lost-and-found websites and Facebook pages, and she followed potential leads every day. She even made a TikTok video while looking for Panther. Altogether, she was active on more than 20 websites and social media platforms.
These days, Gianna helps with Cat by Cat’s social media efforts by posting videos on TikTok and information about adoptable cats on Facebook. She loves working at the shelter, where she provides direct care to the cats. She works at community events and even fosters kittens at home from time to time.
One of Gianna’s favorite activities is trapping, and she is very good at it. After trapping community cats, she pays for their medical care with her own money. She captured Chella at the beginning of her trapping career, and then Panther, whom she caught while trying to re-trap the escaped Chella. She never gives up!
Gianna’s preferred method for rounding up community cats is the drop trap. She baits the trap with mackerel or Friskies, brings the attached string inside the house, and waits for the wanted cat to take the bait before releasing the string to activate the trap. “This way I don’t trap other animals and neighbors’ cats,” she explains.
Gianna is a dedicated supporter of her neighborhood’s community-cat colony. In addition to trapping them for spay/neuter and other medical treatment, she feeds and waters them daily, using a large bucket with an access hole cut into it so the cats can get to the food and water in all weathers.
Gianna has several pets of her own: a guinea pig, two hamsters, and four cats, all rescues: Pizza, Percy, Norman, and Loki. She’s already planning to establish her own rescue operation someday. “I want to help all types of animals,” she said firmly.
Gianna appreciates the help she receives from people in her community, and from Cat by Cat Inc. She is already figuring out ways to educate those of her neighbors who don’t understand that if the lives of community cats are improved, the whole neighborhood will benefit. When it comes to making the world a better place for all, animals and humans alike, Gianna Commisso is on the front lines.
Whatever happened to Chella and Panther? Well, Chella was returned to his overjoyed owner and has become a house cat. After his adventure of being lost for six months, he rarely steps foot outside anymore. Panther was found and returned to the Cat by Cat shelter, where he is a volunteer favorite. Everyone loves Panther, and it will take a special person to adopt him.