Hairdresser spends £14,000 house deposit to bring two feral cats back from Turkey

Kelly Walker spent the money she had saved for her house deposit to bring two cats she found during a holiday in Turkey home in the UK. It took almost a year, but she was finally reunited with them

A hairdresser has spent almost £14,000 to bring two feral cats she found in Turkey to her home in the UK.

Kelly Walker, 43, visited the seaside resort of Antalya in November last year and during her trip she came across the felines, Delilah and Harriet.

The woman, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, started setting up feeding stations to try and win the cats’ trust and eventually brought them to a local vet for medical attention.

She told Yorkshire Live : “This vet looked at me like I was stupid. He said [of Delilah] ‘she’s only about six weeks old.

“She’s got parasites and she’s got all these different issues. She might not even live because she’s quite close to death’.”

Kelly paid £3,000 upfront to get Delilah and Harriet vaccinated, neutered and looked after at the veterinary surgery while she returned to England using cash she had saved up for a home deposit.

She said: “I’d saved up to buy a house. That money wasn’t just for spending on nothing but I just couldn’t leave these poor little souls like that with nobody to help them.

“I thought, ‘well, it’s not that bad’. People in this lockdown have been buying dogs for like thousands of pounds and I’m actually helping two cats.”

Kelly planned to fly to Romania on January 9, then to Istanbul, and finally to Antalya, where she would collect the cats from the vet and take them to the UK with her.

However, due to strict lockdown rules in Turkey, she was now allowed to leave Istanbul Airport for days.

While trying to find a solution to leave the airport, she slept on the terminal’s seat, with no shops or restaurants open where she could buy food.

Eventually, she returned to the UK and was advised to either let the kittens back onto the streets or put them to sleep.

Luckily, Kelly found a pet hotel where Delilah and Harriet were looked after for a fee while she waited to return once more to Turkey.

On October 8 this year, Kelly was finally reunited with Harriet and Delilah for the first time in nearly a year in Antalya after flying out to take them home.

When she went to the airport, however, she was prohibited from flying again due to strict export protocols on live animals.

Kelly said: “I went to the airport with the cats, obviously, to get myself back to the UK, and I was told point-blank, ‘This is not possible. You cannot fly these into the UK from here’.

“I’d spent £12,000 by that point so I was just totally defeated. I went from one airline to the other airline asking, and basically, getting the same reply.”

Kelly returned to the UK without the cats, then contacted an animal rights group that operated an international pet courier service from Turkey via Bucharest.

The journey took place from October 18 to October 23, when she received confirmation the two cats were arriving at her home.

Kelly said she does not regret spending her house deposit on Delilah and Harriet as she feels like she has done the right thing.

She explained: “I absolutely love animals. They’re my passion. I know that I spent that money, and I don’t make a lot of money.

“I’m only a hairdresser – but it made me feel like I’d done something worthwhile.”