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Elderly cat saved from a life living in a car park.

*Update - 23 July 2020*

Great Aunt Ethel, the mature moggy who was found sleeping rough in a Norfolk car park, has found a loving forever home in which to live out her twilight years.

Cats Protection’s Downham Market Adoption Centre was overwhelmed by the response to 21-year-old Ethel’s story and before long a suitable new home was found for her. She even has a garden in which to sun herself as a welcome bonus.

elderly tortoiseshell cat

Alison Westgate and her family gave Ethel a chance to enjoy the autumn of her life at their home in the countryside near East Harling. Alison said: “I can’t believe how well Ethel has settled in to her new home. The moment the travel crate was opened, she was off exploring, jumping onto windowsills and worktops.

“Within an hour we had made friends and she was sat on my lap purring. It already feels as if we have been together for ages. I am so pleased I was able to offer her somewhere safe and warm to spend her twilight years. She’s a dear little thing - you would never know she is a grand old lady of 21.”

tortoiseshell cat with face buried in blanket

Cat Care Assistant Leah Snowden has remained #HereForTheCats during lockdown and cared for Ethel when she was brought in as an emergency admission. Sadly, Ethel’s microchip noted that she had been born in 1999, but contact details had not been kept up to date, so her last owner could not be traced.

Leah said: “From the moment Ethel arrived it was clear she needed our help. You could almost sense the relief in her. It was clear that she had previously known a life of home comforts before she fell on hard times, and she cried out for a chance at that cosy life once more.

“We have been overwhelmed by the love shown by people offering to help Ethel and to enquire about other cats in our care. It hasn’t always been easy to keep going during lockdown and it’s a story like this, with such an out-pouring of compassion from Norfolk people, that makes it all worthwhile.”


Read on for our original blog post about Ethel...

If Great Aunt Ethel were a human she would receive a 100th birthday card from the Queen, but all this affectionate 21-year-old cat wants is a warm home to live out her golden years.

Elderly Ethel has clocked up a century in human years, but life hasn’t given her much to celebrate of late. This mature moggy's story has tugged at the heartstrings of carers at Cats Protection’s Downham Market Adoption Centre when they were alerted to a cat sleeping rough on an abandoned sofa in a car park in Wisbech.

tortoiseshell cat sitting on a shelf in cat pen

Cat Care Assistant Leah Snowden was first on the scene when responding to the emergency call. “Someone called and said there was a cat fending for herself in the corner of a car park,” she said. “Residents in a nearby block of flats had been feeding her, which was very kind, but it was clear she needed our help.

“Cats can be nervous when approached but not Ethel. As soon as she saw me she cried out. It was as if she knew that I was there with a helping hand, to bring her to a better life. It was obvious that she was a cat who had previously enjoyed human love and home comforts”.

tortoiseshell cat in cat pen

Ethel’s microchip showed that she was born in 1999 but the excitement was short lived when Ethel’s sad story unfolded. She had been living in Kent when her owner died but, as the database details had not been updated, carers could not trace Ethel’s last owner.

Local people who had been feeding her in the car park believed that Ethel had been taken to live with family in Wisbech after the death of her previous owner and she either ran off or was left to roam without a home.

Great Aunt Ethel is one of the lucky ones. As the Norfolk cat centre’s oldest temporary resident, Ethel is enjoying fuss and attention while she waits for someone to give her another chance in life.

tortoiseshell cat standing on a shelf in a cat pen

Ethel is a friendly, loving lady in fine condition, especially for a cat of her grand old age. Having received a clean bill of health and some dental work, she can enjoy the rest of her life in a calm home without any other pets or children. A garden in which to sun herself would be a welcome bonus.

If you would like to adopt senior kitizen Ethel via Cats Protection’s new hands-free homing service, please get in touch with the centre by emailing

Many cats are abandoned after their owner passes away, so Cats Protection established Cat Guardians to ensure that a cat is taken care of in the event of their owner’s death.

Cat Guardians is a free service to give peace of mind to cat owners concerned about what might happen when they pass away. A simple clause in a will enables people to plan for their cat’s future so that, in the event of death, Cats Protection takes care of their cat and finds them a loving new home.

Cat Guardians Marketing Manager Becky Tichband said: “We know your cat means the world to you, which is why Cats Protection promises to be there for them after you’re gone. By registering with our free Cat Guardians service you can be assured that, after you pass away, our caring staff and volunteers will look after your cat until we find them a loving new home.”

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