a LEEDS woman who devotes her life to caring for abandoned and feral cats has been told to get rid of them or face action from her council landlords.
Jackie Silcox looks after 21 cats at her one-bedroom, ground-floor Council flat at Hazelwood Close in Ebor Gardens in Leeds.
Ms Silcox, 42, who uses a wheelchair outside her home due to back and leg problems, said: “I don’t know how it started to be honest but I’ve been taking in cats for over 20 years.
“I had my own cats and people started bringing them because they knew I was a cat lover and wouldn’t turn any cat away.” She has no problem coping with them. “Once they are all fed and given a bit of love they all settle down,” she said.
In 2009 she contacted the council about keeping so many cats and says she was visited by a housing official who told her there was no problem.
“She said everything was fine. They did not have a problem. She told me to get permission to build a fence to keep them close to the house.
“I got permission but haven’t been able to afford the fence,” she said.
Now she says that out of the blue East North East Homes Leeds has given her a deadline of August 8 to get rid of all but two the cats, and she is distraught.
A spokeswoman for East North East Homes Leeds said: “Leeds City Council’s tenancy agreement states that Ms Silcox can keep up to two cats within her home.
“We have given a previous warning to Ms Silcox, and have now offered her a reasonable amount of time to find new homes for the cats.
“We have to also think about the potential health hazard keeping 21 cats in the flat could have on the welfare of other residents within the flats.”
Ms Silcox said: “If I lose the cats I will live on the streets with them.”
She is a volunteer with charity Cat Action Trust Leeds which cares for hundreds of stray and abandoned cats.