Our Board

Happy, CCST (Chief Cat Supervisor and Trainer)

Our first requirement is that every board member must love pets–especially cats! Experience with special needs animals is a plus, but it’s not required.

At this time, all board members are volunteers, and our goal is to build an organization that provides a multi-faceted venue for donors and businesses to provide for special needs animals and for aging and/or disabled pet owners without resources in the Austin/Travis County area. All of us serve in multiple capacities. We always need more wonderful people to join us.

Catnip Casa Cat Refuge is a 501c3 Texas nonprofit corporation. If you are interested in serving on the board or volunteering, please contact Penny through our contact form in the side bar.

Co-President and CEO – Penny Leisch (Texas)

You’ve seen our story and read about the commitment Michael and I have to animal welfare. Catnip Casa Cat Refuge is an organization created to allow the community to support and provide for special needs cats, as well as to educate those who want to foster them. Our Love & Cuddles program provides a venue for people in our community to help seniors and their pets by providing boarding or foster care for pets when owners are hospitalized, allowing the pets to return home. This helps the pets, the owners, and the local shelters that can use their space for other animals. We truly believe with education and support there will be fewer aging and special needs animals spending sad days in local shelters. In addition, we want to begin to fill the gap in services for our veterans, seniors, and disabled persons who are often faced with giving up a pet due to a temporary illness and lack of resources. My first hat is that of President; my second hat is intake and evaluation of the animals; my third hat is that of Treasurer; and my fourth hat is Webmaster and designer.

Co-President and Chief Technology Volunteer – Michael Leisch (Texas)

As of our annual meeting in 2018, Michael joined the board as co-president, as well as continuing to help with the other heavy lifting (cat litter and food deliveries come to mind) and technical challenges. According to Michael, he is the CTO, which stands for Cat Trap Opener, but we know he does way more than that. He’s a very important part of this organization. Over thirty years of banking and technical experience gives him the expertise to keep our software current and the site secure and online when technical problems befall us. He scoops, handles vet pickup and delivery, and keeps us online, on top of working full time in his day job. We are grateful for his time and labor in all capacities.

Director/Vice President – Tia Stevens (Arizona)

Tia replaces Ruth Clapp, who retired in 2018 due to her health. We want to thank Ruth for her years of service, and we want to give a big happy paws-up to Tia for joining us. As an adult student, Tia juggles university classes as a business major, being a mom, and advocating for animal rescue. She and her husband share their home with a son and daughter, two rescue dogs, and a beautiful array of fishes.  We look forward to taking advantage of Tia’s creative skills and business acumen.

Director/Secretary – Shawna Wenzel (Oklahoma)

Shawna is retired from the insurance industry. She lives with several rescued dogs on two acres in Oklahoma. Being in a rural area, she sees way too many animals dumped and neglected. Shawna is passionate about educating the community to help keep animals in their homes and find homes for special needs animals. When she’s not mowing grass or chopping fire wood, she’s busy evaluating topics for our educational programs.


Young Tabbytha
Do you think I can surprise the dog if I hide here?