Neglected cat 'smelled like rotting flesh' after being kept in a filthy shed for 15 years
Sonny the ginger stray is fighting for his life after being found in a shocking condition, covered in flies and bleeding from a burst ulcer in his mouth.
The elderly tomcat was severely emaciated, sick, and crawling with fleas when he was rescued from the filthy shed, where he had lived since he was a kitten, in Marton on Sunday.
He is now in emergency care at Greenways veterinary health centre in Ansdell, where he remains in a serious condition.
Tender Paws Cat Rescue founder Chrissie Meryem said it was the worst case of animal neglect the charity had ever seen.
She said: "Years ago, there was a mum and three kittens living there. The mum and two kittens disappeared, but little Sonny was left there. He's now between 15 and 16 years old. We can only imagine the life he has had.
"He was in a terrible state. Since we picked him up yesterday he has been on a drip, he's had blood tests, he's on pain relief, he's on antibiotics, he's had an x-ray and we're waiting for the results.
"You can see from the picture how bad he looked, but I can hardly describe the smell. He stank. He smelled like rotting flesh. I don't know how he's survived."
Sonny was spotted 'covered in bluebottles' in the front garden of a house in Marton by a passing dog walker on Saturday, who alerted Tender Paws.
"If he hadn't been spotted, that cat would probably be dead in the gutter surrounded by bluebottles by now.
"He's eating, so that's a good sign. He's still got some fight left in him. He's lived through the night. I'd say he has a 50/50 chance.
"My heart breaks for him. You just want to cry, but of course you don't, you just get on with it. Truly, I just want him to live. Whether he has days, weeks, months or even years left, all I wish is for him to have known love and kindness. Thankfully, some lovely people have offered him five-star homes.
"I think he will be at the vet for a while. The vets are saying if - and it's a very big if - he survives, it will be a couple of weeks before he's well enough to go. But it doesn't matter how long it takes at the end of the day. We will do anything for our cats. The coast is immaterial. We will just have to take it day by day.
"I don't know how, but we always manage to meet our vet bills. People are generous, they love cats and they love what we do.
"I don't think Sonny has been touched much in the past 15 years. He was too ill to show his character. But whatever his character is, we will accommodate that. By the time he comes out of Greenways he should be used to humans, because he will be getting lots of attention.
"Unfortunately, this is the plight of strays, not just in Blackpool but everywhere, which is why we say it's so important to neuter your cats. Rescues don't have the capacity to take in every single stray that comes along. Luckily we are a rescue that specialises in strays and we won't ever turn one away."