25/04/2018 16:19 BST | Updated 25/04/2018 16:20 BST

Cat Shelter Founder Facing Eviction Brought To Tears By Crowdfunding Campaign

Amanda Straughan said she's 'really touched' by people's kindness.

Kind strangers have joined forces to help a local cat shelter facing eviction.

Lilly’s Legacy Voluntary Cat Rescue, based in Stoke Newington, London, takes in stray and feral cats, giving them medical care while acclimatising them with humans before finding homes for them.

Amanda Straughan, who runs the shelter full-time and on a 24-hour basis, was dealt some devastating news earlier this week when the owner of the building she rents revealed they were selling up. The 46-year-old now faces losing her home which she shares with her 15-year-old son who has autism and 18 rescue cats - some of whom she’s helped hand rear.

Distraught and panicked by the news, Amanda took to Facebook to ask people to urgently foster the cats in her care. “It will be for 2-3 weeks,” she wrote. “If you can’t actually foster for me, please ask those who you would trust your life with.”

Amanda with two of the cats in her care.

Amanda also asked for help with buying food and cat litter, as well as paying for medical bills. Due to personal problems, including a spate of poor health, she missed the cats’ vaccination booster dates and, as such, has had to start over. She also needs to pay an outstanding vet bill for one of the cats who had an unexpected dental operation.

“Funding the day-to-day care and paying for treatments for the long-term rescues is a massive struggle,” she wrote on Facebook. “If there is anything you can do...no matter how small, it will be greatly appreciated and if you can help towards vet costs, that would be amazing.”

Luckily for her, kind strangers rushed to help. She had multiple offers from potential fosterers, as well as monetary donations. Freelance tech writer Holly Brockwell helped crowdfund over £500 for the shelter in just under 24 hours.

It was a weird twist of fate that led Holly to the charity. Earlier this year she arranged to collect a bag she’d bought from Gumtree, but the seller had to change the time as they had a vet appointment. Holly, who has two cats herself, asked what was wrong and the seller told her their cat Annie, which they’d rescued from Lilly’s Legacy the year before, had lymphoma and was receiving chemotherapy.

“I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a pet going through cancer treatment, and it broke my heart,” Holly wrote on her JustGiving page. “I added Annie on Facebook (she had her own account!) so I could follow her story closely. She didn’t enjoy the treatments very much, but I loved seeing her grumpy, fluffy face on my timeline, every week hoping she’d get better soon.”

JustGiving / Holly Brockwell
Annie the cat.

But Annie didn’t get better and sadly she died last week. Holly told HuffPost UK: “I felt moved to help the shelter because they rescued Annie. I wanted to do something in her memory, and while I was researching cat charities I found their page with a heart-wrenching appeal for help after the sudden news of eviction.

“Once I’d seen that, how could I not help? My cats would never look me in the eye again!”

Holly set up a JustGiving page and, in the space of 17 hours, had surpassed her target of £500. The money raised will go towards vet bills, injections, food and litter for the cats in Amanda’s care.

The shelter founder, who started rescuing strays and feral cats in 2015, told HuffPost UK that when she found out about Holly’s fundraising efforts and the kind donations of others she was “blown away”.

“It’s been such a stressful few days,” she said. “I burst into tears when I found out. I’m really touched by what people have done.”

If you’d like to help you can donate via JustGiving, offer to foster a cat (preferably homes without cats) or purchase an item from the shelter’s Amazon wish list.

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