Disfigured “Street Cat” Comes to America and Gets Life-Changing Surgery

 Nafas prior to surgery at Angell

In October 2012, a good Samaritan found “Nafas,” a two-month-old cat, curled up under a car on a busy street in Tehran, Iran.  Nafas looked just like the thousands of other stray cats desperate to escape death while foraging for food.  He was dirty, his face and eyes covered in an infectious mass, and he was emaciated.  X-rays would later show he had been eating pebbles and sticks in a desperate attempt to survive. 

But Nafas’ situation was even worse.  A local veterinarian surgically had removed the young cat’s nose in a last-ditch effort to eliminate infected tissue and save his life.  The operation left him permanently scarred and his nasal cavity fully exposed.


Nafas after initially being found (top and middle) and after his nose was removed (bottom)- prior to arriving in the United States.

Lucky to have been rescued from the street, Nafas’ good fortune began to burgeon.  He survived the operation and was brought back to the U.S. by Iranian-American animal welfare activist Yasie Saadatnejadi, who was determined to secure additional veterinary care for him before placing him into a permanent home.  She turned to Michael Pavletic, DVM, DACVS, Director of Angell Animal Medical Center’s Surgery service, for help.

Just weeks after undergoing extensive reconstructive surgery at Angell, Nafas began a whole new life.  The resilient cat, whose Facebook page is followed by well-wishers from around the world, remains in foster care while Saadatnejadi continues to work to find him a permanent home.

Angell Comes to Nafas’ Aid

Nafas was initially examined by Dr. Doug Brum of Angell's Internal Medicine Service

Dr. Pavletic first evaluated Nafas in January 2013 to determine how a new nose might be constructed using adjacent facial tissue.  It was a challenging assignment, but Dr. Pavletic has a long history of performing reconstructive surgery on animals after traumatic injuries. He has skillfully removed countless swallowed foreign body objects from animals (knives, barbeque skewers, corn cobs, undergarments, magnets, etc…), but when it comes to reconstructive surgery, Dr. Pavletic literally wrote the book. He is the author of the widely-used textbook, Atlas of Small Animal Wound Management and Reconstructive Surgery, 3rd ed., and has developed many of the reconstructive surgery techniques currently used in small animal surgery. Dr. Pavletic has transformed the quality of life for hundreds of animals following removal of cancerous tumors or repair from traumatic injuries such as gunshot wounds.

Nafas with Iranian-American animal welfare activist Yasie Saadatnejadi

“Nafas’ was a particularly difficult case given how little tissue there was to work with,” Dr. Pavletic said. "The primary problem was loss of the lip beneath the nose. I was able to reconstruct this area using the remaining upper lip on the left and right side."

It took Dr. Pavletic—who once re-attached a cat’s face after it was torn off completely by a car’s fan blade—an hour to reconstruct Nafas’ tiny face.  “I’m very pleased with the outcome and am confident Nafas will enjoy a long and healthy life.  He certainly deserves that after all he’s been through.”

Dr. Mike Pavletic of Angell's Surgery Service

Nafas was plucked from the streets by a local cat rescuer in Tehran prior to Saadatnejadi bringing him back to the U.S.  The Facebook page she created quickly went viral, ushering in a flood of recommendations from veterinarians around the world who offered advice on how to repair his nose.  “I’m grateful to Angell and to Dr. Pavletic for everything he has done to help Nafas to live as normal a life as possible,” said Saadatnejadi.  “And I know Nafas is going to make one individual or family very happy once he’s adopted.”

Nafas healing with a new nose 2 weeks following surgery at Angell.
Nafas in August 2013, having healed from surgery.

Saadatnejadi is now wholly focused on finding that forever home for Nafas.  Anyone who is interested in adopting him can fill out an application online by clicking here or by emailing adopt.nafas@gmail.com.  For more information on Angell’s Surgery service, please call 617-541-5048 or email surgery@angell.org.