Cleo the cat.

NORTH KINGSTOWN – After an abandoned cat was brought to the Pet Refuge in North Kingstown, she went into complicated labor and had to be rushed into emergency surgery. While the cat, named Cleo, survived the ordeal, as did three of her kittens, the surgery and cost of care resulted in more than $3,000 — a costly amount for the refuge.

The no-kill Pet Refuge, which is operated by the North Kingstown-Exeter Animal Protection League (NKEAPL), is a private, nonprofit organization supported by ongoing fundraising events and the donations of time, money and resources.

According to the Pet Refuge, emergency situations often happen in rescue, with the organization getting calls almost every day to take in abandoned cats, many of whom are pregnant. However, complicated surgeries like the ones Cleo had come with a cost. And in order to cover those costs, the refuge relies on fundraising efforts and donations. In order to cover the costs of Cleo’s ongoing care, the Pet Refuge is trying to raise funds through donations, with the goal of raising $3,000.

“We are hoping to raise enough money to cover the emergency bill so that the money we raised earlier can go towards our necessary operating funds for the winter,” the Pet Refuge announced on Facebook. “We will post regular updates as to how Cleo and her kittens are doing.”

Cleo, a young adult tortoiseshell cat, was already pregnant when she was brought to the Pet Refuge. She was brought in by a relative of her former owner, after being left behind in Providence.

The Pet Refuge then gave Cleo a quiet place to rest and have her kittens, however, after giving birth to a stillborn, she was brought to a local veterinary hospital for help.

“Cleo went into labor at the shelter, which most of the time occurs without incident, and unfortunately gave birth to a stillborn kitten,” said Linda Stevens, vice president of the Pet Refuge. “After that happened it was evident to the staff that she was unable to continue delivering the remaining kittens. It was at that time that she was brought to a local veterinary hospital, which then sent us to Ocean State Veterinary Specialists for emergency surgery.”

Stevens said that the veterinary bills from both hospitals totaled over $3,000.

The resulting bill would take a “big chunk out of the money” the Pet Refuge raised in a recent yard sale, which was to be used to cover costs during the winter season, especially due to COVID-19 related restrictions on in-person gatherings. In addition, the restrictions have reduced operations at many other animal rescues, which has made the Pet Refuge even busier.

To cover the costs, the Pet Refuge is trying to get the word out about Cleo and her kittens through social media, and are requesting donations.

“We are hoping to raise that amount so as not to have to take money from what we previously raised for operating costs for the coming winter,” she said. “We will have very few fundraising opportunities over the winter due to coronavirus restrictions on indoor gatherings.”

After the kittens have reached about 12 weeks of age and have been spayed or neutered and vaccinated, the Pet Refuge will seek adoptive homes for all three.

To make a donation to the Pet Refuge, visit Donations can be made through PayPal or credit card. The refuge is also accepting donations in the form of checks, which can be sent directly to the Pet Refuge, located at 500 Stony Lane, North Kingstown. And to learn more about Cleo’s story, visit

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