Northwest pets

Brenda’s Rescue saving cats for decades

by Len Lear
Posted 3/21/24

The life of a cat rescuer is rewarding at times. But it can also be heartbreaking.

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Northwest pets

Brenda’s Rescue saving cats for decades


The life of a cat rescuer is rewarding at times. But it can also be heartbreaking, especially when you deal with the results of unspeakable cruelty. 

Upper Roxborough resident Brenda Malinics has been rescuing cats and kittens for 64 years. Malinics, 71, routinely scoops up starving, sick, abused animals in neighborhoods throughout the city, gets them veterinary care and works heroically to find permanent, loving homes for them.

In 1995, Brenda formalized her rescue efforts as Brenda's Cat Rescue, which became a state-approved nonprofit in 2014. Her all-volunteer organization rescues several hundred cats and kittens from the streets of Philadelphia annually, and she currently has about 35 volunteers and about a dozen foster care families.

On a typical recent day, Malinics rescued two cats, aged 11 and 5, from a flea-infested house in Roxborough, where they were virtually imprisoned for almost three years after being left in the care of an unhoused woman who was suffering from addiction following the death of her father and the out-of-state relocation of her mother.

The house had all the utilities shut off, and the cats remained in the house with no heat, light or water – although they did receive some food from the daughter whenever she stopped by.

“After no response from the shelters I contacted,” Malinics said, “the Realtor told me that in three days, the contractor was going to flea-bomb the house following settlement, empty it, and begin renovations.”

But flea bombs would surely kill or maim the cats.

“Somehow, with the help of the cat gods, I trapped both cats last Sunday, and coordinated with a vet to board them until they could be evaluated and vaccinated, and now I have two sweet cats, named Ted and Alice, who are confused, scared and due to their ages, may never be adopted.”

Among other recent rescues by Malnics that are now available for adoption is Sandia, an amputee. Then there is Blue, who was saved by Malinics after a man shot her and then watched as his dogs attacked her. Both rear legs were paralyzed. And Sandia, a sweet amputee who is being fostered by Chestnut Hill resident Janie Shields.

Then there was Otto, who was thrown from a car, which fractured two of his legs, and Drake, who was found with a large gaping wound in his neck that is finally healed and is also now available for adoption.

“We were able to save the legs of Otto, Blue, and another cat named Benny,” said Malinics, “but it takes months of time and care and money for each one.”

There’s also a Manx called Nubs, who was found with five other desperate cats on the 6600 block of 8th Street in East Oak Lane. 

“I felt ill when I saw Nubs' injuries,” said Brenda, “and how she wanted nothing more than pets and head rubs from me; she purred the entire time. Her leg was almost at a 180-degree angle, and her ear was bloody with an oozing tract down her face that was dripping from her jaw. She gobbled two cans of food and lay down in a comfortable bed.”

Nubs' leg had to be amputated, some of her teeth were broken and needed to come out, and her ear was badly infected. When Dr. Dana Yard of the Wissahickon Creek Veterinary Hospital, tried to clean her ear, she found that the skin had been eaten away, and half of her ear also had to be removed.

Two kind-hearted young people in the neighborhood named Tom and Tina offered to raise money for Nubs' vet bills and within a day had raised $1,800. But Nubs developed an infection in her face and jaw and needed antibiotics for over a month while she stayed in a small cage that prevented her from moving much, per vet orders.

“This little gal was stapled and stitched and sweet as can be throughout her recovery,” said Brenda. “I was afraid to even touch her, but she kept begging to be petted.”

Malinics, who said she’s struggling to keep her current pace of cat rescuing as she ages, said she hopes to see the new mayor, Cherelle Parker, take some form of action to save many of the city’s abused pets.

“It is a dire situation for our animals in Philadelphia, and I am hoping against hope that our new mayor will recognize this,” she said. “Although I know that animals are always on the bottom of any budget list.”

For more information, visit Len Lear can be reached at