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Michelle’s Kitten Rescue always in need of Newmarket foster families

Michelle Leigh devotes herself full-time to offering a safe haven for abandoned, abused, and feral cats

With the arrival of winter, there are more than a few furry felines aching for a warm place to stay.

Michelle Leigh, founder and owner of Michelle’s Kitten Rescue, offers a safe haven for these abandoned, abused, and feral cats. Alongside her team of dedicated volunteers, Leigh locates and captures wild and abandoned cats, provides them with medical check-ups and surgeries, and places them with loving foster owners until forever homes can be found. 

Based in Richmond Hill, Michelle’s Kitten Rescue relies on foster homes throughout Newmarket, its most prolific area. At the present moment, Leigh has more than 40 cats in foster care across the area, with a high of 90 this past summer.

“The majority of my fosters and my vet — Dr. Dhillon of Bayview Pet Services — are from Newmarket,” said Leigh. “Jennifer Patchell, who helps me out a lot, lives right next door in Bradford. It’s a crucial area for us.”

Three years on from the rescue’s founding in 2017, Leigh has seen it all. She’s responded to hundreds of concerned citizen reports, fundraised the costs of countless check-ups and surgeries, and has built the rescue’s social following to an impressive 6,000. Though the majority of her cats are rescued from the GTA, she’s travelled as far as Cornwall, Ontario to recover a cat and has recently taken in seven expats from Egypt. For someone like Leigh, it really is all in a day’s work.

Though a lifelong lover of cats, Michelle’s Kitten Rescue represents the first time Leigh’s pursued the passion as a career. Her first rescue, a stray in labour, took place while she was still working in her former position as a bartender.

Taking home a pregnant cat visibly struggling outside her workplace, Leigh was shocked to discover a medical emergency: a kitten was stuck, and an emergency c-section was necessary for both to survive. Facing a $3,000 veterinary bill for the procedure, Leigh brought the cat to a friend’s animal rescue in Brampton. The rescue footed the bill, saving both cat and kitten. 

Deeply moved by the “life-changing” experience, Leigh quit her job, deciding to focus on cat rescue full-time. Though initially planning to rescue only neonatal kittens, Leigh soon expanded her work to cats of all ages, conditions, and sizes. In the past three years, Leigh estimates she’s taken in around 1,000 cats.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to save these animals,” said Leigh. “We never, ever euthanize, unless there’s really nothing else we can do. My vet knows not to even mention the word because it upsets me so much.”

Today, Michelle’s Kitten Rescue works with a network of over 35 foster families, and relies on donations of cat food, litter, blankets, kitten formula, and more at their Richmond Hill and Bradford drop-off locations. Leigh encourages Newmarket locals to consider joining her growing system of foster owners and volunteers, and welcomes any financial donations via the Michelle’s Kitten Rescue website (

Those interested in adopting a cat or kitten can fill out an adoption application online ( 

“We’re being really careful with who we’re adopting our cats to,” said Leigh. “Because of COVID-19, everyone wants to adopt right now — we can’t even keep up with the applications. We’re worried that when this all ends and people are back at work, they won’t have time for the cat and will want to return it. So, it’s an extremely careful time.”