New Brunswick

Felines in distress rescued by Saint John cat-lovers

Saint John woman Tricia Doyle took over what was formerly known as Rescue Meow in Saint John in January, alongside her partner Debbie Macfarlane. Now known as Helping Hearts, the pair offer a foster program for cats and catch stray cats, neuters them and finds them new homes.

Helping Hearts Cat Rescue says it has helped nearly 100 abandoned cats since January

Tricia Doyle, shown here with Winnie, has fostered cats for over 10 years, but took her passion for helping them to a new level this year. (Submitted by Tricia Doyle)

Tricia Doyle loves cats. 

So much so that she's dedicated nearly all of her spare time to rescuing them. 

Doyle took over what was formerly known as Rescue Meow in Saint John in January along with her partner Debbie Macfarlane. 

Now known as Helping Hearts Cat Rescue, they catch abandoned cats, have the animals spayed or neutered, then help find them loving homes.

The Helping Hearts program has several foster homes that look after cats, like Mouse, awaiting adoption. (Submitted by Trish Doyle)

"I love cats, and I obviously can't have 20 of my own, so this was a way to have cats in my home all the time, but also be able to give back," said Doyle. 

In the last few weeks, she said they have caught about 15 cats who were left behind by previous owners. And since January, they've spayed or neutered 40 cats, and found new homes for even more.

Stray cat strut

Doyle said stray and feral cats are pretty common in the area, often because owners leave their pets behind when they move away, and the animals aren't able to fend for themselves. That's why finding them homes and reducing the population through spaying and neutering is so important. 

"What happens is they get into colonies, they're not fixed, and they're living outside so they're able to populate very quickly, and it becomes a problem," Doyle said.   

Doyle said a big part of the Helping Hearts program is rescuing stray cats and kittens from the wild, like these two, Garfield and Odie. (Submitted by Tricia Doyle)

Before taking on the cat rescue program, Doyle said she fostered cats for 10 years. 

The most challenging part of operating a rescue is not being able to help all the felines out there, said Doyle.

Her fostering services are often at capacity and that often leaves feral cats, who tend to be aggressive and fend for themselves, on their own.

Helping Hearts works closely with Stoneybrook Veterinary Services in Fairfield to offer spay and neuter services. 

"We're extremely fortunate, they're incredible," said Doyle.

Debbie Macfarlance is responsible for rescuing cats from the wild and bringing them back and forth to vet appointments. (Submitted by Tricia Doyle)

They also have a low-cost program to help families and people in need spay or neuter their cats at a reduced rate. 

 A community effort

Doyle said support from the community has been "overwhelming." 

A local man named Bob Gould collects bottles around the area to redeem and donates all that he earns to the program. 

Doyle said people in the community will now donate their bottles to his initiative. 

"It's honestly one of the main sources of our funding," she said.


Isabelle Leger is a reporter based out of Fredericton. You can reach her at


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?