An animal lover who rescued 41 Spanish street cats and took them to live with her in the Capital has made a desperate plea for help to rehome them.
Laura Inglis spent a four-figure sum shipping them 3000 miles to her mother’s two-bedroom semi-detached house.
Moved by their plight, the self-confessed “cat lady” began to adopt injured or abandoned moggies wandering the mean streets of Puerto de la Duquesa.
She decided to quit her job as a project analyst in Gibraltar – after eight years living on the Costa del Sol – to spend more time with her 75-year-old mother, Norma.
But when no-one in Spain was willing to adopt her feline friends, Laura decided there was nothing for it but to bring them all back with her.
The 49-year-old Royal Bank of Scotland contractor has also set up Just Giving and Facebook pages to raise the estimated £10,500 needed to pay for the treatments.
Laura said: “I could not bear to leave them there because they had all been through such a traumatic time already and most likely they would not survive.
“So now in I am in Edinburgh with 41 cats, which is not really suitable because I live in the city centre near to busy roads, therefore I am now in the process of finding each and every one of them a safe and loving forever home.
“However, before I can rehome any of them, I need to make sure that all are de-wormed and deflead and that they have blood tests and inoculations in order to ensure they remain in good health.”
She lets them out into the garden a “maximum of 20 at a time” so as not to annoy the neighbours who so far haven’t complained. Several stay in the house while the others occupy the garage and the shed which have been converted into makeshift catteries.
Norma has accepted her new guests on a temporary basis, providing her daughter works to find them all new homes.
Laura has already shelled out £8000 of her own money on transportation, passports, microchipping and rabies jabs – not including the £600 a month she spends on cat food.
She added: “I am not a charity and I do not receive any assistance financially from any charities or other cat organisations.
“Everything I have previously done and still do for the cats has been paid out of my own pocket. I do not qualify for any aid here because I work and therefore I am not classed as on a low income – even although I am almost destitute with paying for food and vet bills.”
The estimated cost per cat is approximately £80 and Laura initially needs to raise at least £3300 to ensure every one has the best chance of survival.
In addition to raising funds for blood tests and inoculations, Laura says that ten of the cats are still “suffering from the after-effects of animal cruelty in Spain” so she is also desperately trying to raise funds to pay for the urgent veterinary care they need for long and happy life here.
Meanwhile, Laura also admitted that her dedication to the cats has stood in the way of any possible romantic relationship.
She said: “Yes, I’m single. Who would put up with someone who has 41 cats? I haven’t been on holiday for years – I can’t afford it. My mother thinks I’m out of my mind, though she also loves cats. She just shakes her head at me. I struck a deal with her that I could bring my cats as long as I rehomed them.”
Some of the cats are being treated by Thistle Vets at its Chesser surgery.
The animals were transported to the Capital with help from the ALStrays, an organisation which works to rehome abandoned and stray cats.
Chris Marshall, a partner in the business based in Spain, said: “It’s unusual for one person to have that many cats [brought back to the UK]. But that doesn’t mean it’s unusual to have accumulated that many animals. The way they are treated in Spain is pretty atrocious.
“There are a lot of expats who can’t abide what’s happening to the animals and start to feed them, which is a double-edged sword in that it can create a larger cat colony.
“I admire what Laura is doing but I think she may struggle to rehome the cats in the UK. But they are safe and looked after and they are going to have a much better quality of life.”
Laura came across the advertisement for the service when she was researching how to bring her cats back to Edinburgh.
She said: I almost made myself sick with worry wondering how on earth I was going to overcome this situation. I barely earned enough to cover my own bills plus the cost of cat food and vet care, and I received no help from any charities.
“Over the years I had spent every single penny of my savings on my cats and their care and I genuinely did not have anything left to pay for their transport overseas to Edinburgh. I had received several quotes from pet transport companies all asking for an astronomical amount which was just out of the question. I would have had to have won the lottery to pay for all of that.
“I was at a loss as to what to do and my position was becoming desperate. I had to get home within the next few months and my family, also on limited income, were unable to help financially.
“Then one day whilst researching the internet, and looking for yet another way of overcoming the major problem of getting all of my cats to Edinburgh, stumbled across ALStrays.”
Those who wish to make a donation to help the rescued cats can visit Laura’s fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/laura-inglis-2 or contact her on www.facebook.com/laura.inglis.336.