Purrfect kitten rescue


Julia with Charlie the kitten Have any of you ever watch 'Animal 24/7' on the BBC? I caught it this morning and they were featuring a place called Secret World in Somerset where they raise animals who have been separated from their parents. It brought back memories of something that happened to me 25 years ago.

At that time Chris and I were living in a top floor flat in an old Victorian house. We'd already adopted my darling cat Dylan, who'd been abandoned by his previous owner. Another of the tenants in the building had a female cat called Pancho – who it turned out was pregnant because one day I opened the door to our flat and found a present.

Lying on the mat were two tiny black kittens. In truth, I screamed when I saw them, as I thought they were rats! We quickly realised that Pancho must have given birth, and duly handed the kittens over to her owner, who dispatched Pancho and her brood off to his girlfriend's house as he was going away on a business trip.

End of story? Well no, just the beginning!

The following morning I was putting the rubbish out and thought I heard a very faint miaow. I had a look around behind the bins but couldn't see anything. I mentioned to Chris what I thought I'd heard, so he went to double check.

He came back holding the tiniest kitten in the palm of his hand – it was so small that it didn't even reach his fingers, and it's eyes were barely open. Chris had found it in the back of an old washing machine that had been left by the bins. I rang the vet immediately and they told me to keep the kitten warm and bring it straight into the surgery.

I put some tweed fabric into a Danish Cookie tin and settled the kitten into the middle, then went off to the vet's, where we discovered the kitten was a little boy. The vet didn't hold out much hope for him as we couldn't get him back to his mother, but he gave me a special milk formula to mix up with warm water and oil, and a miniature bottle to feed him with.

It was an anxious few days, but gradually he started to pull through and we christened him Charlie. Dylan was fantastic, a bit of a surrogate 'mum' to the new arrival, cleaning him and occasionally bopping him on the head if he got too boisterous!

Charlie was even in a national newspaper a few weeks later. I was appearing on 'The Price Is Right' at the time, and the story got picked up for its feel-good factor. I wonder, do any of you remember reading it?

Have you ever ended being a surrogate mum or dad to an unexpected arrival? I'd love to hear your stories!

Much love,


  1. Julia D March 5, 2010 at 11:46 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia, just been reading your story about charlie, and it reminded me about 2 kittens that my dad and sister found abandoned at the side of a country road about 20+ years ago. my dad had collected my sister from the train station, she was coming home from nurse training college in Derby (she now works at the queens medical centre in Nottingham) on the way back they were driving through country roads when on the side of the road was something furry and small, they stopped the car to investigate and came across 2 kittens that had been left miles from any where at the side of road, just missing death by a couple of feet from passing vehicle wheels, so along with my sister my dad came home with 2 extra passengers, after a visit to the vet and police to report the dumped kittens, and a couple of days at our house (unfortunately i am allergic to fur so we were unable to keep them ourselves) but they were given a new home together by my sister in law.

  2. kim potamitis March 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm -  Reply

    dear julia your story is very similar to mine a cat gave birth outside my patio window to one kitten and then walked away leaving it behind. it was the tiniest thing i’ve ever seen, we spent the next three weeks hand rearing him, half hourly day and night even feeding him at the hairdressers and the supermarket he became very well known locally, we had to teach him everything his mother would, hilarious at times, but he’s now five years old and the most beautiful cat, and worth all the effortof those first few months regards kim potamitis from cyprus

  3. Linda McKellar March 6, 2010 at 11:14 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia, I have lived in Spain for 14 years and a similar story started a chain of events for me. When we first moved here in 1996 it was a very wet winter (much like this one!) and a female cat brought her brood of kittens into our garden to shelter from the rain. We lived very near to a busy road and I spent weeks worrying about our adopted family. David (my husband) and I decided that we couldn’t just watch more and more kittens being born, so we started catching the cats (a very difficult procedure) and having them neutered. 14 years later we have had about 120 cats neutered and a friend and I raise money for this by selling second hand books, boot sales, etc. We also look after the cats welfare – taking injured cats for treatment and having very sick cats put to sleep. We now have proper cat traps and carrying cages – much safer for all concerned. My own 3 cats were all strays. I enjoy reading your blog and love your hours on QVC. Best wishes from a very wet and windy Costa del Sol. Linda

  4. LyndaR. March 6, 2010 at 9:49 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia, what a heart warming story, and what a dear little kitten.AAAHH!..My recent little short lived story happened a few weeks ago when the snow was here and it was an icey cold morning.I was about to step out of the conservatory and thankfully it was an all glass door,when what should I find on looking down towards the step, was a little sparrow who was so cold he was nearly stuck to the step, and couldn’t fly away from me.It was looking sideways as much to say “i can’t do it”.So I shushed my little westie back from the door, grabbed a towel and swooped up the poor little thing.Placed him wrapped in a bundle on top of the radiator, with a mournful voice in my left ear (my other half) saying “looks like it’s dead”, and me thinking ignore that and keep trying!! 🙂 and i’m glad to say I did.Cos hey-presto, it sprang to life and spent the best part of the morning having a recuperating fly around our garage!..although it doesn’t make me a surrogate mummy, I was very happy to help a little sparrow in distress!..
    Take care Julia,

  5. Magda Chetty March 7, 2010 at 7:13 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    I had to write to you, it is not about a cat story, but I just been watching your Silver Diamonique Spectacular show, and both My husband and I said that you looked spectacular yourself.
    First he said there is something different about Julia today, I said that you had your hair cut, which later you said you did. But he also said that your eyes looked fab somehow.
    Any way we both agreed that you looked gorgeous, what is your secret? I do love your hair like that, fantastic.
    Look forward to see you in May.

  6. Steven March 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm -  Reply

    Magda – does Julia not always look fab! I think so….
    Good result for Palace at the weekend Julia. Is it Bristol City tomorrow at home? Will you be there? Another win possibly… hope so. Rangers are at Kilmarnock in a rearranged game becuase of the League Cup Final. We could go 13 points ahead with the same games played.
    Take care and keep looking gorgeous xx

  7. Karen March 8, 2010 at 9:06 pm -  Reply

    Your story reminded of the time, many years ago, when I heard my mother scream out from the kitchen. Racing down the stairs, found my mother with “Sandy” the stray(?) moggy we used to leave food out for. In her mouth she held a very tiny ginger and white kitten, she had jumped through very small and high up kitchen window with it. A bed was duly made up for them both. The kitten was named “Pebbles” and both stayed and lived out long and happy lives with mum.

  8. julie welch March 9, 2010 at 7:40 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    I have a very cute story, not a kitten but a baby wood pidgeon!! I found her under a tree half eaten by a cat, took her home kept her in my kitchen and hand fed her back to health, she stayed with me for two years!! I named her sweet pea. She could never fly but used to walk over to me when i called her and sit on my lap.

  9. julia roberts March 9, 2010 at 2:57 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    What a lovely story and what a good job you came along when you did. I simply can’t understand how anyone could abandon kittens like that – if you don’t want them, just take them to the RSPCA or another organisation that will care for them, even if you leave them on their doorstep. I hope they show your sister in law lots of love in return for their home.
    Julia x

  10. julia roberts March 9, 2010 at 3:01 pm -  Reply

    Hello Kim
    How great that you are writing from Cyprus – my brother was there last week on holiday, I hope the weather was nice?
    You can really relate to how difficult it was to hand rear Charlie – funny thing, he was never that affectionate with me, but he absolutely ADORED my son Daniel.
    Do you watch on line too??
    Julia x

  11. julia roberts March 9, 2010 at 3:06 pm -  Reply

    Hello Linda
    I wonder if you are anywhere near Puerto Banus? When we took the children on holiday there a few years ago, we used to walk along the breakwater in the harbour and there were stray cats everywhere – so much so that we called it the ‘cat walk’. I heard that an English lady had started a feeding and neutering programme – I wonder if it is you??
    Sorry to hear the weather is not too good – when we went at the end of January it was lovely and sunny – I guess we were lucky?
    much love
    Julia x

  12. julia roberts March 9, 2010 at 3:12 pm -  Reply

    Hi Lynda
    You know something very similar happened when I was a little girl. My sister, also Lynda with a ‘y’, was always into animals. She had guinea pigs and rabbits and would probably have trained to be a vet if she hadn’t had asthma. One day she came home with a sparrow who we called ‘cheeky’. After being nursed back to health we let him go but he used to come back to the window sill or doorstep for crumbs!
    Thank goodness you didn’t give up on him
    Julia x

  13. julia roberts March 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm -  Reply

    Hello Magda
    So glad you noticed the hair and that you like it. I’m afraid I chickened out of having it cut really short – in part because my daughter Sophie keeps telling me not to – but maybe later in the year.
    Thanks for your lovely compliments, I think maybe it’s just that I am feeling really well now.
    Keep me up to date with your travel plans
    Julia x

  14. julia roberts March 9, 2010 at 3:20 pm -  Reply

    Hi Steven
    You are always such a charmer!! Hoping to get along to the game tonight if I can get away from QVC in time. Good start for Paul Hart and a brilliant move bringing Dougie Freedman back. Fingers crossed we can get something against Bristol City after their disappointing home game at the weekend.
    Good luck against Kilmarnock – I think most Celtic fans will throw the towel in if you go 13 points ahead.
    speak soon
    Julia x

  15. julia roberts March 9, 2010 at 3:23 pm -  Reply

    Hello Karen
    I think Sandy definitely ‘fell on her feet’!! Was Pebbles named after the character in the Flintstones?
    much love
    Julia x

  16. julia roberts March 9, 2010 at 3:56 pm -  Reply

    Hello Julie
    Oh poor little sweet pea – still at least she had you looking after her. That’s the only thing I don’t love about cats – I can understand why they hunt something, kill it and eat it, but I hate it when they just ‘toy’ with things!
    much love
    Julia x

  17. Julia D March 10, 2010 at 10:33 am -  Reply

    Hi,thanks for your reply i totally agree with you and it makes my blood boil when i hear of animals being abandoned,they should be given to the rspca.
    The kittens my dad and sister found had a long, happy and spoilt life together with my sister inlaw, unfortunately now both have passed away (due to old age related illnesses)the eldest one lived until she was 17.

  18. Rachel Hunter March 11, 2010 at 1:52 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia – I really enjoyed reading your story and I am so glad it had a happy ending.
    I had two wonderful cats – Oscar and Pearl – many years ago. I got Oscar as a kitten from a pet shop in Stirling and Pearl was ‘kidnapped’ from an abusive home by a concerned friend who then asked me to give her a home. Oscar wasn’t too happy about the new resident initially – but eventually accepted her presence and they became good friends.
    I love animals – I give a monthly donation to SSPCA and always hand stuff into the local PDSA charity shop. It seems at the moment they need all the help they can get.
    Kind regards,

  19. Christine March 11, 2010 at 8:46 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    I love to watch you on QVC, especially on the jewellery. When you have guests, you always ask the questions we are thinking and its great that you let the guest speak! Not always the way with some presenters! Great TSV last night.

  20. julia roberts March 11, 2010 at 11:53 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Wow 17 is some age for a cat although my Dylan made it to almost 23!!! Perhaps I will put his story in my book (oh yes I am still writing it!!). Unfortunately Charlie was killed on the road shortly after we moved house but he had a happy ‘innings’!!
    Poppy is coming up to 16 and is in great shape for an old girl – doesn’t it make her about 80 in ‘human’ years??
    much love
    Julia x

  21. julia roberts March 11, 2010 at 12:12 pm -  Reply

    Hi Rachel
    Oscar and Pearl ……….. great names! I know Stirling as my sister used to live at Bridge of Allan and I stayed with her for a while.
    Although Charlie and Dylan got on well (eventually) my current cat Poppy did not have such a friendly relationship with Daisy who we got after Dylan died. They didn’t fight but Daisy very quickly became the dominant character and bullied Poppy everywhere except in the utility room where they were fed. When Daisy was knocked down I was devastated BUT it really has given Poppy her life back.
    Much love
    Julia x

  22. julia roberts March 11, 2010 at 12:18 pm -  Reply

    Hello Christine
    Thanks for your lovely compliments. Listening is as much a part of a Presenters job as talking – after all, they are the experts and should be heard. I enjoy presenting the jewellery shows ……… I agree the TSV today is a stunner. Love Mookite because it’s naturally beautiful and each piece is unique.
    Tiana B tonight – can’t wait!
    Julia x

  23. Steven March 11, 2010 at 7:50 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia did you make the Bristol City game? Bit of a sickener eh. It was a Scot that scored too. I was at the game when Iwelumo missed the chance against Norway. Do you know the one I mean? He was literally 2 feet out lol. We won – again – the other night. Even I am starting to think it’s in the bag now and I am normally reluctant to say such things in case I jinx us. 6 more wins…. who’s up next for Palace. It’s getting awful tight down the bottom. Fingers crossed as always xxx

  24. julia roberts March 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm -  Reply

    Hi Steven
    No I didn’t make it to the Bristol City game – shame Iwelumo couldn’t have missed against us, apparently even the fantastic Speroni couldn’t save it!! We had Barnsley away at the weekend and hung on for a draw but really we need the 3 points in our games now as we are only outside the relegation zone on goal difference.
    We have Leicester at home tomorrow – hoping to make it but I have my Mum staying so not sure if I should go or not.
    I think you can relax now – Celtic would need a minor miracle to catch you guys!
    Speak soon
    Julia x

  25. Steven March 16, 2010 at 7:20 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    I would probably advise staying with your Mother. Not very nice getting your Mum to stay and then saying ‘right cheerio I’m off to the football. Good luck to Palace anyway. I’m going to a Cup Final on Sunday. Rangers play St Mirren in the League Cup Final. Hopefully the first part of a glorious treble. I’m not counting chickens yet though!
    Cheers for the reply again…..
    Love Steven xx

  26. Carole Soloman March 17, 2010 at 12:27 am -  Reply

    We rescued a kitten sharing a barn with a bull whilst visiting friends in devon our friends had the boy and we decided to bring home with us the girl who we had to teach how to lap the milk we found at the services on the M4 and I am very pleased to say Chloe is almost 19 years old she has helped me through since losing my husband six years ago, I now dread losing her as she is the longest I have owned a cat. even though you never really own cats she has been a good friend to me. Carole
    Hi Julia

  27. julia roberts March 17, 2010 at 11:11 pm -  Reply

    Hi Carole
    I know what you mean about never really ‘owning’ cats, they choose to live with you. I think that is what I like about them, the independent streak ………… maybe I was a cat in a former life!?!?!
    I’m so pleased Chloe has been there for you since you lost your husband – both Poppy and Dylan, who we lost 10 years ago as a very elderly almost 23 year old, are/were really sensitive to any unhappiness. I hope you have Chloe for as long as she is healthy.
    much love
    Julia x

  28. julia roberts March 17, 2010 at 11:16 pm -  Reply

    Hi Steven,
    My Mum had been staying with us since Friday so it wasn’t a case of Hi Mum, Bye Mum!!!!! In any case I thought better of it and didn’t go. We lost!!! We had a player sent off for an ‘off the ball’ incident. It makes me really cross when players behave like that – he has let his team mates and the fans down!! It’s still VERY precarious at the bottom of the Championship.
    Good luck in the League Cup Final on Sunday
    Julia x

  29. Steven March 22, 2010 at 12:41 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia. Gutted for your team on Saturday. That bloody Charlie Adam eh! He has done well down at Blackpool. Still very tight at the bottom. I’m keeping everything crossed for you
    We won the Cup Yesterday…. and we did it after getting TWO players sent off(the ref was a disgrace) I think you could have heard me down in England when we scored! Brilliant feeling! So I’m a happy chappy today and I just though I would tell my fave QVC presenter!
    Speak soon Julia xx

  30. julia roberts March 22, 2010 at 10:34 pm -  Reply

    Hi Steven
    Congratulations to Rangers ……… who knows that could be step one of the treble.
    Bad defending did for Palace on Saturday, and we nearly lost the match but for the brilliant Julian Speroni!!!!
    We can still stay up, but we have Nottingham Forest tomorrow night, ( Tuesday ) and to win at the City Ground is a huge ask.
    It’s good to know you have everything crossed for us southern softies!!
    speak soon
    Julia x

  31. Steven March 23, 2010 at 4:56 pm -  Reply

    Forest are flying high Julia arent they. They also play Newcastle soon so might have one eye on that. Speroni could be the ace in your side. He is a top class keeper. Fingers crossed. We play Dundee Utd at Tannadice. This time in a Scottish Cup replay. I’ll be there but I’ll be checking the Palace score when I get in. Good luck and hope you are having a good week xx

  32. Steven March 24, 2010 at 11:10 am -  Reply

    Just realised I got the time of that message wrong and Palace were last night. We play tonight…
    Not so good again was it? I know you weren’t there because I saw you looking gorgeous as always on QVC! Who’s up next? It’s a shame because b4 the points were taken off Palace were actually playing well weren’t they. I’m still hopeful they’ll syay up Julia. Keep Believing x

  33. julia roberts March 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm -  Reply

    Hi Steven
    Unbelievably another player sent off last night!!!! Speroni is excellent but I think their keeper pulled off a cracking save to deny Ambrose. We have Cardiff on Saturday – early kick-off on TV so you could watch a bit if you have nothing better to do. You know we are still playing OK just getting absolutely no luck – it has to change sometime, lets just hope it is soon.
    Were you watching the Elemis show then?? Have you tried the men’s products? They are supposed to be very good.
    Good luck tonight although you hardly need it!
    speak soon
    Julia x

  34. Steven March 24, 2010 at 3:37 pm -  Reply

    Unfortunately Palace game clashes with Rangers trip to Tynecastle against Hearts which I am attending. Talk about expensive months! Fingers crossed though. Cardiff are quite an inconsistent team so hopefully Palace catch them on a bad day! Are you going or are you working?
    Was that the grooming collection for men? I quite liked the look of that. You may get a sale there! My Auntie is a QVC addict and has bought lots from you guys. I may be about to start too
    Tonight will be tough. Utd are good on their own patch and came back from 3-1 down at Ibrox. Fingers crossed. Thanks for your best wishes too x

  35. julia roberts March 24, 2010 at 11:14 pm -  Reply

    Hi Steven
    OMG!!!! What happened?? I thought you guys would walk it. Still you are on for the double – mustn’t be greedy. Cardiff drew tonight, and I agree they are inconsistent particularly at this end of the season – I remember them dropping out of the play-offs at the end of last season, so here’s hoping!
    Good luck against Hearts
    Julia x

  36. Steven March 25, 2010 at 7:10 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia. The management team decided to play a weakened side. 7 regulars were missing and Utd are strong at home. Theres my excuses! As it happends we were totally distracted off the pitch with events from another game. Celtic lost 4-0 at St Mirren 😀 Tony Mowbray predictably has been sacked today!! I think thats a real shame as I thought he was doing a great job lol. So all in all it was bitter sweet night becuase we virtually wrapped up the Title but lost the Cup, the goal was in the last minute too. My Auntie said she is looking forward to one of your shows this evening. I think it’s to do with handbags?
    Good luck against Cardiff. There is a big ex Scottish presence there too. Gavin Rae and Chris Burke used to be at Ibrox.
    I’ll go for 2-0 Palace then you can blame me if it goes wrong
    Take care xxx

  37. julia roberts March 30, 2010 at 12:00 am -  Reply

    Hi Steven
    I don’t know if I am still talking to you – it was a fantastic Chris Burke goal that stole it for Cardiff. Actually there were some terrible refereeing decisions that cost us dear, and it’s a shame because the boys really gave it a go, and didn’t deserve to lose. We are really in the poop now – we absolutley have to win at Watford tomorrow night and that is going to be tricky without Clint Hill who picked up another yellow against Cardiff – he is my favourite apart from Speroni.
    I’m not suprised Mowbray has gone – I couldn’t understand why my sister was so pleased with the appointment after he got West Brom relegated! Didn’t see your result Saturday as I was too busy ‘crying into my beer’!!!!
    speak soon
    Julia x

  38. Steven March 30, 2010 at 7:25 pm -  Reply

    Sorry Julia(he says sheepishly!) I promise not to curse your team again! We won 4-1 and are now 4 wins from the Title. We play St Johnstone tonight. The weather has taken a turn for the worse so I am not attending this time. It has been a really expensive month for me so although disappointed not to be going it’ll save me a few quid!
    Fingers crossed for the game at Watford. That is all I’ll say after my last attempt. Hope you are still speaking to me lol. Mon the Palace xxxxxxx

  39. Steven March 31, 2010 at 6:56 pm -  Reply

    We really can’t get this right – can we! We finally get your team to win and my team lost 4-1 – yes I said 4-1 at St Johnstone. Hopefully just a wee blip on our road to success. Still a major sickener and a massive shock. I got a slagging at work tonight but I think I take it quite well and can dish it out too so won’t complain. Who’s next for the Palace? xxxx

  40. julia roberts April 6, 2010 at 1:53 pm -  Reply

    Hi Steven
    Sorry missed these two! Fantastic result against Watford and it seems to have kickstarted our confidence. You guys are going to win the title it’s just a matter of when so I need you to keep supporting Palace.
    Know what you mean about the banter – we took a friend of Daniels to the Preston game ( a Preston fan ) and he got really upset when Dan started a bit of banter – I’m sure I would have taken it on the chin if the result had gone the other way ….. maybe!?!?!?
    speak soon
    Julia x

  41. Steven April 8, 2010 at 7:40 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia. Sort of replying in two threads – sorry – but it’s worth it when Palace are on the march! I give out plenty at my work so my view is if you dish it out then you have to take it and I would like to think I’m OK on both counts!

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