"From the time I was a little kid, she let us bring in any and everything that needed a home. We had baby coyotes and raccoons and squirrels, anything that needed to be dropper-fed," Reed tells PEOPLE. "And this was before the Internet, so it was my mom and I at 10 p.m. going to an emergency vet when we didn't have five dollars to our name, just to ask a vet tech what we should do."
That love for animals was one of the reasons Reed, 26, and her fiancé, actor Ian Somerhalder, 36, clicked so well. Currently the couple count four dogs, three cats and two horses as their "kiddos," all split between two coasts.
"I did a horse film about a year ago and I literally couldn't separate myself from two of the horses. They became like my family and I couldn't say goodbye," Reed says. "I'm so lucky that Ian and I are on the same page with animals. We made [adopting the horses] happen together."
On Saturday, Reed will host the Catdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, where she hopes to find homes for litters of kittens on the red carpet. Presented by Fresh Step litter, the festival will debut six films starring shelter cats along with a custom 14-karat gold and diamond cat dome ring designed by artist Ashley Berman that Reed will wear.
The bling will be auctioned off, and 80 percent of the winning bid will benefit the ASPCA.
"This is what I live for and it's my passion, so I love any opportunity to collaborate in this way," Reed says. "Nothing makes me happier than being a part of this."
Except perhaps her life with Somerhalder. Recently engaged, the couple were first spotted together in July. So what excites the actress most about their future?
"Honestly just the endless possibilities, you know? We have such an amazing future ahead of us and anything we put our minds to will become a reality," says Reed, who will next star in the thriller, Enter The Dangerous Mind. "I'm just excited for all those possibilities."