How Galileo Followed the Stars to Find His Purr-fect Home

July 3, 2024

Last summer, the ASPCA received a request from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to assist with the removal of more than 40 cats from a property in Queens. The cats had been living in crowded, unsanitary conditions, and many of them were sick, emaciated and in desperate need of medical attention. The owner was later convicted of animal cruelty.

Following their removal, we transported these cats to our NYC facilities for forensic exams and continued care and enrichment with our veterinary and behavior experts.

Removals like these aren’t uncommon through our decade-long partnership with the NYPD, through which we are able to better assist New York City’s animals and provide support to pet parents who may be struggling to care for their pets. In situations like these, many animals who come from overcrowded living situations, where human contact and resources may be limited, are often quite shy or fearful at first. However, at only 4 months old, one orange tabby showed confidence right away while in our care. He was named Goldfinch.


A Long Wait

Antonia P. decided to become a foster caregiver for the ASPCA because despite having grown up with pets, her husband, Dario, had never lived with an animal inside the house before. Giving an animal in need a temporary space was a good compromise for the couple at the time and soon enough, they were browsing through available foster animals through the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center. This is where they first saw Goldfinch.

“He was just so small and so cute, and he was just a little baby,” Antonia says. “We were like, yes, this is the cat we want.”

After bringing home the adorable, playful young cat, in only a week’s time, both Dario and Antonia fallen in love with Goldfinch. It wasn’t long before they decided to officially make the kitten part of their family, and decided to give him the new name of Galileo, after Piazza Galileo Galilei, where they stayed on their first vacation together in Italy.

“When we decided to give him a name of his own, for us, that’s the moment that we realized that it’s going to work for us as a family,” Antonia says.

Despite being ready to adopt their new family member, the case for Galileo and his former housemates was still open with the NYPD, meaning that unfortunately adoption wasn’t possible just yet. Galileo would remain a foster pet for just a little while longer.

“So, we waited, because the more time we spent together, the more he became a part of our life,” Antonia says. “We couldn’t imagine living without this cat.”


The Best News Ever

After a few months of waiting, Antonia finally received the call she had been waiting for in December.

Antonia works at a middle school, and since Galileo had become such an important part of her life at this point, her students all knew about him. Throughout the day, they liked to ask about the cat and see pictures of him. She was with her students when she learned that he was able to be adopted.

“I cried and the class cheered,” Antonia says. “They were as invested as we were!”

By this point, Galileo had already become quite used to life in Antonia and Dario’s home. Dario, whose first experience with an indoor pet was with Galileo doesn’t think of their pet as just a cat or a dog --he thinks of him as a part of the family.

“For me, he’s a companion, a friend, a ‘little heart’ that’s waiting for you,” Dario says.

As Galileo matured, he also began to show off his true, quirky colors at home. For instance, he loves to play with water and to watch it go down the drain.

“He is obsessed with the bathroom,” Antonia says. “He has even flushed the toilet on his own before!”

Otherwise, Galileo can be found carrying his favorite piece of string around the house, or hiding behind a corner, waiting to surprise someone passing by. He even became best friends with the landlord!

“Galileo gets so excited when he comes over and runs after him when he is trying to leave!” says Antonia.

Antonia and Dario say that Galileo changed their lives in the biggest way.

“Galileo completes our family,” Antonia explains. “The three of us are a family unit. He comes into our bed at night and finds a spot between us to cuddle.”



Joining The Rescue Effect

Antonia expressed her gratitude to the ASPCA teams who supported her through the foster process and kept in close contact about Galileo’s path to adoption.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better experience fostering and then adopting,” Antonia says.

Galileo’s journey began as a foster kitten, and foster caregivers like Antonia and Dario are crucial for animals like him. Not only do fosters help their animals get adopted (or adopt them themselves), but they may also be opening their doors to an animal who is waiting out a complicated legal situation.

“Our advice for someone wanting to foster or adopt is to just do it!” says Antonia. “It brings so much joy and happiness to your life.”

By inviting Galileo into their lives, Antonia and Dario joined what we call The Rescue Effect. When one animal leaves for a foster or adoptive home, more shelter space opens for another animal in need. The Rescue Effect is that ripple of change that travels through shelters across the country!

Many animals in the shelter system thrive when given the chance to live in a foster home. You can join us in participating in The Rescue Effect by fostering or adopting a feline friend of your own! Visit to learn more about how you make a lifesaving impact today!