RSPCA inspector prepares to walk the 100km Northumberland Coastal Path in memory of her cat who defied the odds to reach 23

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An RSPCA inspector has taken on a challenge to walk the 100km route from Cresswell to Berwick-upon-Tweed in memory of her cat and to raise funds.

Kirsty Keogh-Laws, 37, first met her cat, Mishka, as an animal care assistant at the RSPCA’s Felledge Animal Centre, where she was discovered in 2010 at a house in Hull along with over 60 Siamese and Bengal-type cats.

Each cat required many months of care due to health problems from neglect and Mishka was skeletal, weighing about the same as a bag of sugar at 0.9kg. She had to be fed tiny portions of food and wasn’t expected to live more than six months.

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Despite the bleak outlook, the nine-year-old feline defied the odds and lived another 14 years, before passing away at Kirsty’s home in February 2024 at the remarkable age of 23.

Kirsty and Mishka.Kirsty and Mishka.
Kirsty and Mishka.

Kirsty, who is raising funds for the RSPCA’s Newcastle and North Northumberland branch, said: “She was a little bit feisty at first and every time I walked past her in the cattery she’d look at me to try and get my attention - she picked me really!

“I wanted to channel the heartbreak of losing her into something positive, which is why I decided to take on this challenge. I’m calling it ‘Mishka’s March’ in her memory to raise money to help other animals like her. I’ve been training for the last couple of months but this is going to be a proper challenge for me.

“Anyone who has pets will know how much they enrich and impact our lives, and every now and then a really special one comes along. Mishka was one of those, a one in a million cat who clearly thought she had a lot more than six months of living to do. I miss her dearly.”

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Kirsty also owns a 33-year-old horse and a 13-year-old Shih Tzu and will be joined on the walk by her friend and RSPCA Inspector in the south of England, Lucy Brennan. They set off on June 22 and hope to complete the route in four days.

They are embarking on the walk as the RSPCA celebrates its 200th anniversary.

You can donate to Kirsty’s JustGiving page here.

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