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Rainham grandmother helps rescue 11 cats abandoned in cardboard boxes down alleyway

PUBLISHED: 17:00 18 January 2019

Animal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with the 11 abandoned cats currently at the Celia Hammond Trust in Canning Town.

Animal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with the 11 abandoned cats currently at the Celia Hammond Trust in Canning Town.

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The video of the cats has gone viral, and a Rainham grandmother was the first at the scene.

A Rainham grandmother came to the rescue of 11 cats who were abandoned in cardboard boxes down an alleyway.

Tracy Sheehan, 53, is an animal rescuer for the Celia Hammond Trust in Canning Town, and on Friday, January 11 at about 6.45pm she was working the night shift when she received a call from a woman who said there were four boxes, with “meowing” noises coming out of them, in an alley in Stratford.

The first box opened contained three cats. Picture: Celia Hammond TrustThe first box opened contained three cats. Picture: Celia Hammond Trust

The mum-of-three then rushed to the scene, where she picked up the boxes and took them back to the centre.

She couldn’t open the boxes there and then because she didn’t know what was in them. She said: “We didn’t know their temperaments so didn’t dare open the boxes and risk them flying out into the road, so made a few tiny holes to let air in but not big enough to allow them to rip at the cardboard and escape.”

The dumped boxes containing the 11 kittens in an alleyway in Stratford. Pic: Celia Hmmond TrustThe dumped boxes containing the 11 kittens in an alleyway in Stratford. Pic: Celia Hmmond Trust

The boxes were wrapped in brown tape and once she had them back at the centre, the boxes were cut open using a butter knife - as using scissors would have been too dangerous and risk cutting the cats.

Tracy and several nurses, vets and other members of staff discovered the 11 cats trapped inside.

Animal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with the 11 abandoned cats currently at the Celia Hammond Trust in Canning Town.Animal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with the 11 abandoned cats currently at the Celia Hammond Trust in Canning Town.

Tracy, who has eight cats of her own at home in Louise Gardens (Mouse, Nemo, Dora, Elvis, Minnie, Reg, Bob and Willow) said: “We were completely overwhelmed when we opened them.

“We are called out to rescues every single day, but it is never as many as this.

Animal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with the 11 abandoned cats currently at the Celia Hammond Trust in Canning Town.Animal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with the 11 abandoned cats currently at the Celia Hammond Trust in Canning Town.

“When we were opening them, more and more kept coming out and all I could think was ‘Oh my God’.

“I saw their little eyes looking up at me, and I just felt so sorry for them.

Animal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with the 11 abandoned cats currently at the Celia Hammond Trust in Canning Town.Animal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with the 11 abandoned cats currently at the Celia Hammond Trust in Canning Town.

“Who knows how long they could have been there, it could have been 10 minutes or it could have been hours, that’s why we got them back to the centre as soon as possible because they wouldn’t have had much oxygen in the boxes.

“We can only assume the intention was for them to die as surely everybody knows animals need to be able to breathe to survive.

Animal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with the 11 abandoned cats currently at the Celia Hammond Trust in Canning Town.Animal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with the 11 abandoned cats currently at the Celia Hammond Trust in Canning Town.

“One really strange thing is that these cats are really friendly and have clearly once been loved, handled and cuddled - what on earth would drive an apparently loving owner to do something so terrible?”

The cats were all extremely underweight and covered in fleas so are currently under the care of the charity’s vet until they are well enough to find new homes.

Animal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with the 11 abandoned cats currently at the Celia Hammond Trust in Canning Town.Animal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with the 11 abandoned cats currently at the Celia Hammond Trust in Canning Town.

Since the trust posted a video of the cats online last week, Tracy said they have had thousands of people get in touch asking how they can help.

They have received hundreds of donations of food, beds and toys for them, and she said the support has been amazing.

Animal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with nurse Kimberley Lee and Amy Blanks showing some of the many donations recievedAnimal Rescuer Tracy Sheehan with nurse Kimberley Lee and Amy Blanks showing some of the many donations recieved

She told the Recorder: “It’s gone totally viral, I just want to say thank you to every single person who has donated or been in touch.

“It really has been absolutely amazing.

“We’ve had boxes and boxes of food, anonymous Amazon donations, and we’ve been able to use it at the centre here, and at some of our other centres too.

“The most important thing is that the charity gets the recognition for the great work it does, and the cats get what they need.”

Celia Hammond, a former model who founded her charity in 1991, told the Recorder: “We are horrified that someone has done that and that they would seal the boxes in such a way.

“It’s dreadful to dump animals in this way but to do it in such a way that they can’t survive is dreadful.

“Whoever has done this may have more cats.

“If that person wants to contact us, it can be anonymously, and we can try and help them and take their other cats.”

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