Saving Lives One Cat at a Time!

By Katie McHenry and Kathleen MacKinnon

The holiday season is known as a season of miracles – what better way to celebrate than to give thanks to SPCA NOVA’s Cat Guardian Angels who have helped us make miracles happen for so many cats and kittens in our care?

What the Cat Guardian Angels Program Does

The Cat Guardian Angels program allows donors to contribute as little as $30 to help us provide medical care for specific cats and kittens who need special care. Many of the cats and kittens who get sponsored come from local shelters where they would have been euthanized because those shelters don’t have the funds or appropriate space to care for cats with special needs.

While in the Guardian Angels program, cats typically live with foster parents who are able to care for their special needs. Most of these special needs cats and kittens are available for adoption once they are healthy. However, a few – mostly older cats – remain permanently in foster homes if their condition requires extensive ongoing care. Once their medical needs are taken care of, they may “graduate” from the program and no longer need sponsorship.

We have literally been able to save the lives of dozens and dozens of cats and kittens over the years with the help of Guardian Angels. Here are just a few of their stories with photos from when they were found or started their treatment and how they look now.


Gatita came into our care from a local vet office. She was found outdoors by a good Samaritan after being hit by a car. The vet office asked for our help so they wouldn’t have to turn her over to a local shelter that would not have had the resources to help her.

We took Gatita into our care knowing we could help raise money through our Guardian Angels. Following surgery to repair her broken leg and pelvis, Gatita was on the road to recovery – until a vet discovered a large mass in her bladder after antibiotics didn’t help her recurring urinary infections. The mass turned out to be scar tissue from being hit by the car, and removing it required another surgery. With the help of a skilled surgeon, Gatita has recovered fully and was adopted by a friend of her foster parent, Hillary.

Poppy and Her Kittens

Guardian Angels also saved the lives of Poppy and her kittens, who would have been euthanized at a local shelter after being diagnosed with severe upper respiratory infections (URIs). Poppy and all of her kittens were malnourished, and her kittens had varying degrees of ulcers in their eyes and mouths. The kittens initially had to be tube fed while their mom recovered and the ulcers in their mouths healed. Five of her six kittens survived, and most of them also needed special treatment by an ophthalmologist for their eye ulcers.

Not only were they saved by the Guardian Angels who helped pay for their vet care, but also by their foster mom, Dr. Gregiore, a vet who was able to provide extraordinary care, along with lots of TLC. Poppy and her kittens are now doing very well and will be available for adoption once they have fully recovered.

Max and Qian

Max and Qian were both stray cats who came into SPCA NOVA’s care after being found outdoors by good Samaritans. Many rescue groups don’t take in stray cats, but we actually specialize in helping these cats because they often have the greatest need for help. In both cases, Max and Qian were being fed by their good Samaritans, but they didn’t have adequate shelter or a home to call their own.

When taking in stray cats, we never know what their health issues may be. Both Max and Qian appeared to be relatively healthy, although once in our care, we eventually discovered they had ongoing special needs.


Max has been in our care for about five years, thanks to his loving foster mom Haven and his Guardian Angels. He receives ongoing care for a heart condition, allergies, and asthma. He had been stable for quite a while until he developed a urinary blockage from crystals in his urine – a condition that would have been fatal if Haven hadn’t caught it in time for him to receive the proper intensive care.

Max needed to be hospitalized longer than expected (about 10 days), and we were prepared to do surgery if needed. However, with good vet care and careful monitoring, his blockage was cleared, and he is on special food to prevent crystals in the  future. While he has now developed a urinary infection that is resistant to many antibiotics, we are confident that, with careful monitoring, Max will do well. Haven has adopted him, and SPCA NOVA provides ongoing support for his medical needs.


Qian has been in our care for about three years, thanks to her loving foster parents (first Katie [though not the co-author of this story] and now Jess) and Guardian Angels. Once in our care, Qian began rapidly losing weight and showing signs of issues with her intestines. After tests were completed, we discovered she has both inflammatory bowel disease and hyperthyroidism. Left untreated, Qian’s hyperthyroidism would have led to organ failure.

It has taken a lot of trial and error with various tests, medications, and special food. And, once it was clear that Qian’s hyperthyroidism couldn’t be controlled with medication, she    received Radiocat® – an injection of radioactive iodine to shrink  the tumor on her thyroid. Qian no longer suffers from hyperthyroidism, and her inflammatory bowel disease is under control with special food and just one medication. This is an amazing outcome for this sweet girl who will finally be available for adoption very soon.

Become a Cat Guardian Angel

Sponsoring a cat through our Guardian Angels program is a convenient way for cat lovers to provide assistance to cats and kittens with special needs. And, in the spirit of the holiday  season, the program can be a wonderful gift for a cat-loving friend or family member. We provide a Cat Guardian Angels newsletter to keep our Guardian Angels informed about the  progress of our cats and kittens with special needs.

Learn more about the Cat Guardian Angel Program.

Check out our current Cats Seeking Guardian Angels.

You can also read about our Cats Who Have Graduated.

Special Thanks

There are so many Guardian Angels to thank – too many to name them all – but a special thanks to those who have supported Gatita, Poppy and her kittens, Max, and Qian: Janice and Cliff, Debbie, Lindsey, Jennifer, Sara, Samantha, Kanett, Ragon, Haven, Kate, Penny, Kathy, Janet, Byron and Linda, Heather, Petra, and Douglas.

And let’s not forget all of the foster parents who put their hearts and souls into caring for our kitties with  special needs.

Gatita Before and After
Poppy and her Kittens Before and After
Max Before and After
Qian Before and After