A Young Cat Is the Purr-fect Antidote for a Grieving Adopter

June 26, 2024


It had been over a year since Anna K. said goodbye to her 15-year-old cat, Marceline, who died after a long, chronic illness.

“It was time for a new companion,” says Anna, “And the house felt like it needed cat energy.”

Anna told her good friend, Caroline Lenz, a Veterinary Assistant at the ASPCA Adoption Center, that she was ready to adopt, and Caroline suggested Anna meet Allegra, a 1-year-old brown-and-white female tabby who had recently nursed a litter of kittens and was ready for a home of her own.


“Knowing that Anna is an amazing cat mom, I kept an eye out for her,” says Caroline. “Anna had provided wonderful care and diligently medicated Marceline when she was sick, and now, the timing was right.”

Caroline had come across Allegra at our Adoption Center, while she was being treated for an upper respiratory infection and feline parvovirus, a highly contagious viral disease characterized by an abnormally low level of white blood cells.

“She had been quarantined for a couple of weeks and had cabin fever,” Caroline says.

“Despite the quarantine, she showed this indomitable spirit. Her sweet, soft face was begging to come out, and she stuck her paws out the door. I was impressed by her resiliency because the shelter can be a very stressful place.”

Pathway to Adoption

Allegra was found on West 146th Street in West Harlem by a good Samaritan who brought her and her four kittens to the ASPCA on April 16. Allegra and the kittens were admitted to the ASPCA Kitten Nursery, which opened in 2014 to support the capacity of Animal Care Centers of New York City (ACC) by providing care and treatment for the most vulnerable kittens often too young to survive on their own. The family of felines was placed with a foster caregiver later that day.

Allegra was one of nine queens — nursing cats — whom the Nursery has taken in this season. In 2023, 32 queens and their kittens made their way through the Nursery.


“Allegra was a fantastic mom with a very loving personality,” says Gemma Smith, Administrative Manager of the Kitten Nursery. “By early May, the kittens were weaned, and Allegra was spayed on May 14.”

The kittens — Riley, Valentina, Josephine and Avery — were spayed and neutered and have been adopted.

On May 25, Caroline and Nina Dbouk, previously an Admissions and Placement Specialist, arranged a “meet and greet” for Anna and Allegra over Zoom, during which Allegra showed off her precious personality.

“She was adorable, playing with toys, and jumping and leaping,” says Anna. “Caroline picked her out for me, so I was confident she’d be perfect.”

Special Delivery

Anna tested positive for COVID-19 two days before she was scheduled to adopt Allegra, so a remote adoption was arranged, with Caroline delivering Allegra to Anna’s Prospect Heights apartment in Brooklyn.

Caroline, who adopted two cats and a dog from the ASPCA, considers Allegra her “niece.”


Allegra is now called Phoebe — officially “Artemis Phoebe” — an epithet of Diana, the mighty huntress.

“She stalked a rat-shaped toy and brought it to me,” says Anna, a graphic and website designer who works from home. “It’s her favorite. She fetches it and brings it back to me.


“She settled in immediately,” Anna adds. “I had set up the bathroom as a transitional space, but she explored the whole apartment.”

Anna says that Phoebe makes her presence known on Zoom calls with co-workers and clients. She adds she’s never had a pet “any other way but by adoption,” and would do it all over again.

“We get to hang out all day,” says Anna, adding that Phoebe’s favorite spots are a teal armchair and the window. “It’s nice having her here.”


Fostering or adopting just one animal helps shelters make room to save another animal. We call that The Rescue Effect. Visit aspca.org/TheRescueEffect to learn more about how you can make an impact that ripples throughout shelters nationwide!