AnnaJerichoJoan JettMacadamiaMoon PieOllivanderOrangina & MelonballPresidential KittiesRachelWalter

Anna and her rescuers

By early November 2008, Anna didn’t have much time left. Perhaps the young cat had been trapped somewhere without access to food, or perhaps she had been outside and on her own for several weeks, and was simply unable to scavenge or hunt enough food. We may never know—but what we do know is that on a chilly late fall day, Anna’s luck finally changed for the better, thanks to two kind-hearted women and the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society.
On that day, a woman named Maria was getting her hair cut in downtown Newburyport. At a nearby restaurant, another woman, Jane, was enjoying a pleasant lunch. Unbeknownst to each other, both women were looking out the window, watching a small, long-haired black and white cat weave her way through the parking lot, hiding under cars and occasionally daring to come up on the sidewalk. Both Maria & Jane watched as several people noticed the painfully thin cat… and then turned and walked away. Luckily for Anna, Maria & Jane could both clearly see that she needed help – and they planned to do whatever they needed to do to get her that help.
The two women – strangers to each other until this point — encountered each other in the parking lot and set out together to rescue the cat. They watched in horror as Anna darted across busy Water Street towards the river. With Jane’s lunch leftovers in hand as bait, the pair never thought twice as they dashed across the street behind Anna, who was frightened and stayed just out of reach. They followed Anna to a boatyard, towards the docks that were stacked up in the yard for the winter. In went Anna, and Maria & Jane crawled right in after her, determined that they would not leave this little cat behind.
A short time later, our Board President at that time, Stacy LeBaron, happened to be standing at the front desk at MRFRS when the door opened and two women walked in with an emaciated black & white adult cat wrapped up in a jacket. It turned out that Jane had adopted her cats from MRFRS, and so she immediately thought to bring Anna to us. When I reached to take her from Maria, I was horrified to feel that Anna was truly little more than skin and bones. When we put Anna on the scale, she topped out at a mere 3.6 pounds – about the weight of an average three-month-old kitten.
Despite her condition, Anna wanted nothing more than to snuggle into whoever was holding her. Her amazing purr belied her perilous condition. We did not yet know if her organs had begun to shut down due to starvation. All we could do at this point was cuddle with the little cat and feed her to her heart’s content while she purred with delight at being safe inside once again.
Amazingly, blood work showed that other than a general infection, Anna’s organs were functioning properly. Much to everyone’s delight, Anna just needed to eat – so Janet, an MRFRS volunteer, took Anna home to nurse her back to health and shower her with love and affection.
By early January 2009, Anna had more than doubled her weight. She was found to have been previously spayed, and MRFRS’s veterinarian declared her healthy enough to be put up for adoption. With tender loving care – and lots of food! — Anna had gone from an emaciated waif to a perky, healthy cat with a beautiful, shiny coat and a gleam in her eyes!
We will never know how Anna came to find herself alone and starving, and we will never know how long she was out there, or the suffering she endured. But we do know that she pulled through because of Maria and Jane, who chose not to walk away when they witnessed Anna’s suffering. Instead, they went far out of their way to help a cat they knew desperately needed them – and MRFRS was there to complete the work these rescuers began – the work of saving Anna and finding her a loving home.

Jericho & Rachel

Jericho and Rachel were two cats who lived on the Newburyport waterfront from early in our 25 year history.
They “retired” to an indoor home in the early 2000s, where they lived out their lives in warmth and comfort.
Read more about the lives of our early waterfront cats here.

Joan Jett and her kittens were living in an abandoned, rat-infested car. When they all tested positive for Feline Leukemia, their rescuers brought them to MRFRS, knowing our long-time commitment to finding homes for cats afflicted with this disease. Her kittens were adopted right away, but Joan was with us in the shelter for almost a year patiently waiting for a home. Finally, a couple walked in and decided that Joan — now known as “Jetty” since they live on the beach — was the right cat for them. At last, she has a loving home to call her own, where she can snuggle in laps and gaze out the window.
Late in February 2016, Merrimack River Feline Rescue staffers received a phone call that started out like so many others we receive: a Good Samaritan had found a stray cat and was hoping we could help. He had discovered this cat in his yard the previous evening, skinny and bleeding. He didn’t have a car and asked if there was a possibility we could come pick her up.
We quickly arranged transportation, and what we found was truly heartbreaking. Emaciated and covered in blood, the young dilute calico could barely stand up on her own. Staff described her as “a skeleton,” and didn’t think she would even make it to the veterinarian’s office. Our good friends at Newbury Animal Hospital felt that this beautiful girl, dubbed Macadamia, likely had a pyometra: a uterine infection common in unspayed cats. In her case, however, her infection was so severe that her uterus had ruptured, filling her abdomen with bacteria and causing a systemic infection. A rupture like this requires complex surgery, so Macadamia was rushed to an emergency specialty veterinary hospital, where she was admitted and placed on an IV and antibiotics in hopes of stabilizing her condition before her operation.
The next morning, Macadamia was a bit stronger, so the hospital performed the surgery to remove the infection and spay her in the process. Thankfully, she survived, and the vet told us that it was likely that Macadamia had been suffering with this massive infection for weeks, and surely would have died had she not made it to MRFRS, where support from generous donors like you saved her life. Although she had made it through her surgery, this was only the start of a long road to recovery for Macadamia, who weighed a scant four pounds upon intake. Her appetite was poor after her surgery and it quickly became apparent that she did not feel well. A trip back to the vet revealed that she likely had more fluid in her abdomen, and a second surgery seemed inevitable. Luckily for Macadamia, however, another round of IV fluids and antibiotics perked her up, and she was able to return to her foster home in short order.
After about two weeks in foster care, Macadamia’s true personality began to emerge. She began to eat, and she proved herself to be a very friendly — if quite sassy! — young lady who particularly loved to be around children. She was adopted into the perfect home, and will never have to spend another day wandering alone!
Moon Pie is an older black & white kitty who came to us here at MRFRS in 2012 under tragic circumstances. Moon Pie’s former owner is a veteran of the Iraq war, and in the years after his service ended, his world began to crumble. In spite of his own difficulties, he managed to care for his two cats and one dog.
One spring night, this young veteran’s troubles overwhelmed him and he made the decision to end his own life. Alert neighbors called police, who arrived in time to save the young man. Knowing that the man’s pets needed to be removed from this traumatic situation immediately, police called the local animal control officer and she, in turn, rushed Moon Pie and his brother Snickerdoodle straight to our shelter.
Once the cats were safe at our shelter, staff quickly realized something was very wrong with Moon Pie. His left eye bulged horribly from its socket, causing the side of his face to swell. He was clearly a sweet cat, but he was also in extreme pain,growling at the slightest touch. We rushed him to a local veterinary hospital. They removed the eye and determined that the swelling was caused by a large tumor growing behind it. The tumor was removed and it was cancerous.
Moon Pie’s cancer did not spread, and when he was ready for adoption, a wonderful woman who had dreamed about a one-eyed cat took him home to be part of her family!

Ollivander frolics in the fenced-in yard at his mom’s house!

Many of you will remember Ollivander, a sweet little orange tabby kitten born with severe deformities to all four of his legs. Ollivander was lucky enough to wind up here at MRFRS, where the generosity of supporters like you made it possible for him to travel to see a surgeon in Chicago who had worked with similar cases. After two surgeries in the winter of 2013, Ollivander was much improved and able to use his right back leg for the first time in his life!
In 2014, Ollivander was off to Chicago to see Dr. Neihaus again – this time for some work on his other back leg, as well as his front legs. His foster mom Brit – MRFRS’s shelter medical coordinator – and her husband Robert packed Ollivander up for the trip.
Once in Chicago, they tearfully turned him over to his wonderful Chicago foster mom, Taylor, a surgical technician at Dr. Neihaus’s office who has assisted in all of Ollivander’s surgeries. Ollivander went into surgery a few days later, and Dr. Neihaus felt that Ollivander would now be able to use his other back leg for support (instead of having it just drag along behind him), and that he would be better able to hold himself up fully on his front legs.
It has been a few years since Ollivander’s last orthopedic surgery. He was adopted by his foster, Brit, and he is thriving! He is a sweet, energetic, playful boy who can now do most things that regular cats can do. He loves to run, pull himself up on furniture, and can keep up with the rest of the gang. Ollivander could not be a happier, sweeter, or more lively cat!
Orangina and Melonball were rescued by the MRFRS from a frigid New England winter. On a chilly January day, a young man walked into the shelter in a panic. While out for a walk behind his home on the marsh, he and his dog, a 110-pound gentle giant of a Rottweiler, had discovered a terrified orange cat behind his house. The young man quickly realized that she was in trouble, as her front leg was stuck partway through the stiff collar around her neck. He also soon discovered that she was
not alone. Under the porch, there was at least one tiny kitten, crying pitifully in the cold for his mother.
Terrified for the kitten’s safety in the chilly, wet weather, the man and his friends scooped him up and brought him inside, then went for help. Worried that there were more kittens, and unsure of how to help the mom, the man knew that MRFRS would know what to do. Two staff members quickly sprung into action, bringing along a heating pad for the kitten, a trap for the mother, and hopes for the best. They quickly trapped the mom, and both mom and kitten were transported back to the shelter – after the staff thanked the young man and his dog for finding this helpless kitty family, and for going the extra mile to make sure they got the care they needed.
Back at the shelter, the staff immediately removed the collar from around the mom’s neck and leg, as well as the second collar she was wearing. Sadly, neither collar had any identification on it. The kitten, who appeared to be less than a week old, was healthy and glad to be back with his mom. Staff dubbed them Orangina and Melonball, and once they got a clean bill of health, they settled in at a foster home – safe, warm, and comfortable at last! Before they went to their forever homes, Orangina and Melonball receive all the medical care they needed – vaccines and parasite treatments, testing for diseases, microchips, and, of course, spay/neuter at the appropriate time – all of which is provided to them through the incredibly generous donations of our supporters.
On Wednesday, November 25, 2015, we embarked on the one of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced: rescuing 67 cats and kittens living in a desperate hoarding situation in a Salisbury trailer home. We were informed about the problem by an anonymous individual, and immediately reached out to Animal Control to confirm the report.
With so many cats needing to be removed — and Thanksgiving approaching — we needed every pair of hands possible. Our Shelter Manager Brit Fox Hover headed up the rescue effort, noting, “the response from our staff and volunteers was amazing.” Complicating matters, the cats were terrified and difficult to catch, and conditions in the house were extremely dangerous and unpleasant for both the humans and the cats.
Once safely removed from the home, our attention quickly turned to ensuring the health and welfare of the 41 adult cats and 26 kittens. We worked quickly to have every animal examined by our vet, vaccinated, as well as spayed or neutered if they were large enough and healthy enough. Happily, for the most part, the entire group of cats was friendly and healthy, despite the fact that they had been living on macaroni and cheese.
This effort generated significant attention from the community, including a feature on the WBZ Evening News, and an outpouring of generosity in donations of funds and supplies from the community, as well as offers of foster homes. In addition, we were able to assist the homeowner with getting the help he needed. The ultimate happy ending is that all of these needy cats and kittens found forever homes where they now live healthy and happy lives in conditions they deserve.

Rachel & Jericho

Rachel and Jericho were two cats who lived on the Newburyport waterfront from early in our 25 year history.
They “retired” to an indoor home in the early 2000s, where they lived out their lives in warmth and comfort.
Read more about the lives of our early waterfront cats here.
Walter is one of MRFRS’s Catmobile clients! He visited the Catmobile for his neuter. Walter’s owner, Amy, got him from her sister. Her sister’s friend had found him wandering around a pond in a wooded area with no houses around for a few miles, but could not keep him.
Her sister had Walt for a month or two, which he spent hiding under furniture because the other cat was bullying him. When she had to move and could only take one cat, Amy took Walter. He appeared to be pretty young because he was playful, but he had obviously not been neutered judging from the smell emanating from
the litter box!
Amy decided to call the Catmobile because she had her other two cats spayed and neutered on the Catmobile and surgery and recovery went smoothly. She could tell our Catmobile staff care a lot about the animals they work with. Since Amy owns multiple cats (four all together), ranging in age from 2 years old to 15 years old, she needs to try to keep veterinary expenses under control. All of the cats treated by Catmobile are happy and healthy kitties. Amy emailed us to say “Because we have so many, Catmobile has been a HUGE lifesaver for us financially! I give you all all the credit in the world, you have such a loaded schedule, and work long days providing this service. Thanks again!”