A DEVOTED Wigan pet-lover has nursed a cat family back from the brink of death after finding them malnourished and abandoned.
Janet Erlam of Worsley Mesnes saved the unwanted animals along with the help of the Prevent Unwanted Pets (PUP) charity in Atherton after they were left for dead.
Although the 55-year-old mum has since had to give them up, she says that caring for the mother and her litter of five kittens gave her a real boost during what has been a difficult time for her.
Janet leads a very busy life, not least because she cares not only for her parents but also another elderly relative with several debilitating conditions including Alzheimer’s disease. She also holds down a part-time library job, is recovering from a minor stroke she suffered last year and has high blood pressure.
Nursing the cats for six weeks, she said, had been real “therapy” and their departure snow has been something of a wrench.
Janet added: “I feel so sad and it broke my heart that I had to leave the kittens with the charity.
“I had a little weep but I know they’re finally being looked after well now. They just provided me with the happiest time of my life. Pets are good for you. I used to have house rabbits and they calmed me down too, but the last one died last year.”
Janet first met the pets when the mother cat turned up in her garden and soon was getting regular feline visits.
She explained: “Each night when I returned home I would see a cat in my garden. At first she wore a collar then it disappeared.
“Being a carer is stressful and her visits cheered me up.
“After one very bad day this little lady stayed until she must have felt I was less upset.
“One very rainy morning I opened my back door to two baby kittens, I was in no doubt who their mother was one was identical to her, they were so tiny they could not get over my step.
“Their mother appeared a few moments later meowing as if she was asking for help.”
I rang PUP and spoke to Ann Hillinge and she guided me. My daughter and son-in-law came over and I knocked on doors to find out where this family had come from.
“The kittens were wet, exhausted and starving. Finally the babies fell asleep but the mum was agitated.
“We heard meowing, my son-in-law and daughter went out and there was another kitten on the fence.
“He was so wet we had to dry him and feed him, their poor mother was malnourished and exhausted, so my son in law went out for food, cat litter and other stocks.
“The mum slept awhile and then became agitated. And Ann from PUP suspected there were more kittens so we let the mother out and lo and behold there were two more kittens, soaked and hungry.
“The Rescue was overrun with kittens from owners who haven’t neutered them. PUP, Cats Protection and other rescues have vouchers for neutering but still unscrupulous owners do nothing about it and rescue centres fill up.
Now, the family is being fostered by PUP and ready to be adopted thanks to Janet’s quick thinking.
Since the incident, Janet wants to raise awareness of the charity and the work that it does.
She added: “I fostered this family and with PUP, they are now neutered, vaccinated, chipped, wormed and de-fleaed.
“Despite knocking on doors no one owned up to owning them. “I think that it’s heart-breaking. People around here are only interested in keeping cats out of their gardens so with the help and support of PUP we looked after this family and found them better lives.
“This cat trusted me to save her little ones and whilst I don’t want the truth about her whereabouts emerging now because she has a better life, she loved and trusted me to help her.
“The babies grew under the care of PUP and My Pet Vet’s Twist Lane in Leigh. Fantastic care was offered to support my fostering role.”