A Sheffield charity has been forced to close its doors for good after the sudden death of its patron.
Jackie Longley, who founded the city’s Cat Abuse Treatment Society in 1983, died unexpectedly last month at the age of 68.
The cat-lover, who ran the sanctuary from her council home in Firth Park, had devoted her life to caring for abandoned and mistreated cats.
The charity has been in the hands of trustees and volunteers for five weeks as they’ve struggled to deal with Jackie’s death and decide what the next step should be.
Jackie’s friend and CATS volunteer Marie Smith said taking the decision to wind down the charity was, in the end, a difficult but necessary one.
She said: “CATS was Jackie and Jackie was CATS – it didn’t feel right to carry on the charity without her.
“She devoted her life to caring for her animals and she has helped thousands of cats in the past 30 years. Her incredible work will never be forgotten in this city.”
Sheffield Council has extended a grace period to the volunteers at CATS to give them time to wrap up the charity’s loose ends before they take the house back at the end of the month.
Jackie was caring for 24 cats at the time of her death and Marie and her team of volunteers have been busy finding homes or other sanctuaries to take them in.
Only four remain at CATS now – the four that Jackie was particularly close to.
Marie said: “We have two sisters and a brother cat who are all seven years old and have grown up together. They all suffer with cerebral palsy and, thank goodness Jackie ignored the vet’s initial recommendation that they be put to sleep, as they’ve all grown into happy and contented cats.
“We’d really like to see these three rehomed together, as they’ve already lost one important member of their family in Jackie, we don’t want them to lose each other too.
“The final cat is Whisky, a blind cat who was born without eyes. He’s incredible and loves roaming, playing with kittens and catching flies – all in spite of his disability.
“Jackie loved all animals, but she particularly identified with cats like this, the ones who needed a little more.
“This has been such a difficult and emotional time for all of us, but it’s important now that we remember Jackie well and the best way to do that is by finishing the work she began as best we can.”
n Can you give any of these cats a good home? Marie would like to hear from you on 07810 040023.