Local senior adopts kitten born at Angel Guardian home

Adopted: Rosemary DeCillis rescued this sickly kitten she found on the grounds of the Angel Guardian home — and named him “Angel,” after his birthplace, as a way to remember the recently sold property, which is likely headed for the wrecking ball.
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This little furball is the last orphan to be adopted from the Angel Guardian home.

A stalwart of the Narrows Senior Center at the recently sold Angel Guardian home in Dyker Heights adopted a sickly kitten who was born on the property and named it after the former orphanage after she found out it was sold and on its way to demolition.

“This is a remembrance to me of that property,” said Rosemary DeCillis of her 3-month-old kitten, Angel. “This is like my souvenir from the Angel Guardian home. I’ll always know that he came from there. Once I found out it was sold and was going to be broken down and everything, I said, ‘I know I can’t give him up.’ ”

DeCillis said she and her pals at the senior center were lamenting its impending closure — slated for next month — on a cold December afternoon when they saw a trio of felines pop up out of nowhere onto the windowsill.

“We were sitting in the senior center, and all of a sudden somebody said they saw three little faces by the window, in the midst of playing Bingo,” she said.

DeCillis promptly dispatched one of the center’s kitchen workers to sprint outside and try to snatch the tiny kittens from the frigid temperatures outside. Two of the kittens dove inside a pipe, but the worker was able to grab the little gray-and-brown striped tabby kitten, which was too weak to make a run for it, according to DeCillis.

She brought the cat to a local vet and then to her Bath Beach home, where she nursed him back to health over the next few weeks — keeping him in her bathroom with a bed and a litter box to protect him from her three dogs.

“He was very sick — his eyes were closed and getting stuck together, and he had a respiratory infection,” DeCillis said. “He was very mellow, because he really didn’t feel good. I was cleaning his eyes three times a day, I had to give him medicine every 12 hours.”

But within two weeks, Angel was restored to full health, jumping all over her house and chasing around her three dogs — her Shih Tzu Penny and chihuahuas Cheyanne and Maggie.

“As soon as he got better, he got all the pep,” DeCillis said. “He runs all around, he teases the dogs like crazy because he knows he could run and jump so he can get away from them. When I pick him up and he calms down a bit, I kiss him on the face. I want him to get used to my feel, and know that I’m not hurting him and that I love him.”

And since DeCillis found the kitten just after this paper broke the news that the Sisters of Mercy had sold the sprawling property, she said she knew she had to name him after his original home.

“I said, you know what, the Angel Guardian home is gonna be gone soon — which is a shame — and the mother gave birth right on that property, so why shouldn’t I name him ‘Angel’ after the Angel Guardian home?” she said.

DeCillis has had other cats in her lifetime, but she said her bond with Angel is unlike any other because of the ordeal they went through together.

“I had to put a lot of work into taking care of him and making him well, and I got close to him because I knew he needed somebody to take care of him,” she said. “When you take an animal in, you have a bond with them. It’s a different kind of bond.”

Local animal rescuer Peter Szalaiko, who runs a local stray-cat rescue organization called Ferals in Peril, helped DeCillis make sure Angel was healthy, and said that taking in the homeless kitten was the right move.

“She absolutely did the right thing, because the kitten obviously lost its way,” Szalaiko said. “That happens a lot.”

DeCillis echoed the calls of other seniors at the center who said they wished the Sisters of Mercy had not sold the home and forced the seniors out of the property early, but DeCillis said that she is taking solace in the fact that Angel’s future will be nothing but heavenly.

“He’s going to have a good life,” she said.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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