A MOTHER cat which sought shelter inside a barbecue to have her kittens is on the road to recovery and ready to find a new home.
The cats were saved by a whisker after they were found huddling inside the unlit barbecue in Torrington during an intense stormy October night.
Diana Lewis of North Devon Animal Ambulance (NDAA) was already attending an incident in Ilfracombe when she received a call about the bedraggled feline and her newborn kittens.
Diana's husband Mick and fellow NDAA volunteer Pauline Bussell drove to Torrington to help. Diana said: "I was confronted with two dire situations at once.
"I was already on my way to Ilfracombe High Street to pick up a kitten with a broken leg. I phoned Mick and Pauline and asked them to go to the incident in Torrington.
"Six kittens were born but sadly three died because of the cold and wet. The three surviving kittens were very frail and had to be kept in the intensive care unit for a week.
"We believe the mother cat may be domestic because she is very friendly.
"A woman phoned us to say she heard the newborn kittens crying. The mother and her kittens are extremely lucky."
Rehoming officer and chairman Pauline said: "It was a horrible night, cold, wet and windy. The woman who phoned us put all four cats in a cardboard box with towels and blankets. I am sure this helped save their lives.
"The kittens were so cold they had turned a blue colour. We had the heating on in the car full blast. Mick drove us back to Barnstaple and I sat rubbing the animals to get them warm.
"Now they are strong and ready to find new homes after the New Year. They have had a bad start in life and deserve to have a loving home."
Diana said the cat and three kittens can now be reserved subject to home checks. Phone 07817 995751 or 01598 740603.