The Rescue of Nicholas the Christmas Cat


The rescue of Nicholas the Christmas Cat is an amazing tale that brought together rescuers from all of Los Angeles and allowed a cat to go from living in tough, dire conditions to a wonderful, loving home. He was stuck in a wash in Rosemead for likely over a year. It is unknown how he got down there. He was inaccessible to humans because it was at least a 20 foot drop down a concrete wall to get to him. On the sides were chain link fences with locks. People in the neighborhood would throw food down to him when he cried for it. He knew that if he communicated with them, people would feed him. The people around the neighborhood knew Nicholas so well they knew he didn’t like dry food.

 Rescuers in the wash getting Nicholas

Nicholas’ situation was especially urgent because he had a ribbon tied around his belly and hind legs. It was clearly hurting him. He needed medical attention as soon as possible.

Nicholas in the wash with the ribbon attached to him

Several cat rescues around Los Angeles learned about Nicholas and wanted to help. Frantic emails were sent to try to find someone to assist them. Many people put in time and effort to help save Nicholas. Debbie and Evelyn were part of that team that was up to the task. They lowered a trap down the concrete wall with food in it. They first trapped a Siamese cat as well as some other animals including a possum, but Nicholas remained.

Through a series of emails and lists, Rebecca, a cat rescuer who often worked with Kitten Rescue, learned about the situation. Rebecca and her husband, Alan, drove out to Rosemead to see if they could help rescue Nicholas. There was an additional urgency as time went on with winter coming and the fear that rain could flood the wash. They couldn’t do much due to the wall and chain linked fence.

Nicholas’ original name was Smarty because he kept evading the traps. Two weeks after the initial emails Nicholas was finally rescued. It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. That day, Evelyn brought him to FixNation, a free clinic for feral cats, to be neutered. At the same time, the surgeons at FixNation removed the ribbon that was cutting into Nicholas from his abdomen to his back and then they stitched him up. All free of charge.

Evelyn then requested help in fostering him as she had a full house of other rescue cats. Rebecca and Alan decided they were up to the task of fostering him and finding him a home. They drove out to the Evelyn’s home in Rosemead to find Nicholas hiding in a carrier in her windowless garage. Evelyn said he was sweet and had been running around the garage. When Rebecca put her hands in the carrier, however, Nicholas growled and hissed. Evelyn couldn’t keep him, so Rebecca and Alan knew they had to take him.

It took a couple of days before Rebecca and Alan could examine Nicholas. When they reached into the carrier in their home, Nicholas purred but wouldn’t come out. He finally did. They discovered that the ribbon that had been removed was an even greater problem then they realized. It had prevented him from walking properly. He recovered from the surgery but had to re-learn how to walk. The ribbon had caused him to shuffle when he walked. Rebecca and Alan patiently worked with him to adapt to live in a house and with other kitties.

Rebecca started bringing Nicholas to adoption events in December 2013. Despite his outgoing personality that had developed, he wasn’t having much luck. In January 2014, Rebecca put him in Kitten Rescue’s enclosures at Petsmart in West LA. Finally in February his Forever Home parents, Dani and Richard, found him.

Nicholas has quickly adjusted to being the only cat at home and the center of attention. He’s very affectionate although he is still learning the finer points of life with humans. For example: feet may be very interesting but they are not toys for chewing even in the morning when you are purring and very excited for breakfast. He is a very bright, extremely sensitive cat. He wants very much to understand what is expected of him and how to make his humans happy.

Nicholas at Home

Many people continue to inquire and care about Nicholas. After his rescue, people made donations to Kitten Rescue and FixNation in his name. People in the neighborhood called and texted Evelyn and Debbie asking for updates once they saw he was no longer in the wash.

Nicholas enjoying life at home
Kitten Rescue was founded in the spring of 1997 and has grown to become one of the largest and most respected animal welfare groups in Los Angeles. We are a non-profit, totally volunteer run organization devoted to finding loving new homes for unwanted cats and kittens. Kitten Rescue volunteers place approximately 1,000 cats and kittens into new homes every year. Since its inception, Kitten Rescue has rescued and placed over 14,000 cats into loving homes. More information about Kitten Rescue can be found at