Neonatal nurse brings her skill and compassion home to help feline patients

Sheryl Cyr has been rescuing cats much of her life, now she runs nonprofit for special needs kittens

You have to love what you do if you’re going to take your work home with you.

ANTHONY, Fla. – You have to love what you do if you’re going to take your work home with you.

That’s the case for this week’s Getting Results Award winner.

Every day neonatal ICU nurse Sheryl Cyr holds tiny lives in her hands at Advent Health Ocala - only to do the same thing in her living room afterhours.

Cyr is the founder of Loving Lois Rescue and Rehabilitation. The 501c3 nonprofit’s mission is to help special needs kittens get healthy and find homes.

“These are the kitties that nobody else will take,” Cyr said as she sits in the Kitten Room, a converted bedroom of her home in Anthony. “They are the sickest of the sick. We take in the kitties that no one else will.”

Cyr lifts the blanket covering a large cage in the room.

“She’s just getting oriented in here,” Cyr said, revealing a mother cat and five nursing newborns. “There’s five of them and a couple have medical issues."

Cyr then makes her way to the kitchen where she will mix medication for the newborns. Her refrigerator has a section dedicated to medicine of all sorts as well as feeding formula.

“We have containers full of the different medications, syringes and everything we might need in an emergency,” Cyr said as she draws the white de-worming medicine into a syringe. “At work we do the same thing. We draw up our medicines.”

Cyr has been a neonatal ICU nurse for 23 years. The parallels of her profession and how she chooses to spend her off hours is not lost on her.

“The fragile ones, the sickest and the most fragile ones who can’t do it without help.” she said. “They can’t tell us what’s wrong. They can’t tell us what hurts. It takes passion for that, you have to love it. If you don’t love it you won’t last.”

It’s clear Cyr loves it. She said she’s been fortunate to find homes for all the kittens she’s helped over the years. There are a few exceptions though.

“This is Lois,” Cyr said, pointing to a crouching brown cat at the top of a climbing tower. “She’s actually the cat the rescue is named after.”

Cyr explained how Lois was found paralyzed and lying in a parking lot five years ago. Today, after therapy, Lois has gained back all her motion and climbs, runs and plays with Cyr’s other cats.

“We have 11 permanent adult residents here,” Cyr said. “They’re family members.”

Cyr started a Facebook page after taking Lois in. It was initially a way to keep people updated on her progress but has evolved into a social media gateway for adoptions and rescue updates.

“I do what I do because I love it, not for any kind of notoriety,” Cyr said.

Brenda Campbell adopted her 8-month-old cat named Bee from Loving Lois Rescue and Rehabilitation. She thought Cyr deserved to be recognized for her efforts, nominating her for the News 6 Getting Results Award.

“I just thought she was so deserving. She’s such an incredible nurse and everyone looks up to her and her skills. But she also has this great rescue,” Campbell said.

“People often ask me why I do what I do,” Cyr said as she sat on her couch, a tiny kitten named Little Mary purring and outstretched against her chest. “This makes it worth it right here. If they can all go on to be safe, happy and loved, that’s all I need.”

About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.