Three tiny kittens have been rescued from a garden and named after key figures from the history of the NHS.
They have been called Nye, after Aneurin Bevan, who founded the NHS; AJ, after AJ Cronin, whose book The Citadel paved the way for the service; and Elizabeth, after Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman to qualify in Britain as a physician and surgeon.
The three-day-old kittens were abandoned when their feral mother was unintentionally disturbed by a cat-loving member of the public who walked into a garden near Redruth, Cornwall, where they were sheltering.
Despite immediately keeping her distance, the cat-lover watched as the mother fled the scene with one of her five-strong litter.
The woman immediately contacted Cats Protection’s Cornwall adoption centre where centre manager Libby Jepson advised her to monitor the situation from a distance.
The mother returned for one more of the litter but by early evening she had not been back for the remaining three kittens, and Ms Jepson knew they were unlikely to survive if left alone.
“Feral cats are terrified of humans so we want to have as little contact with them as possible,” Ms Jepson said.
“In this situation, the kittens had been left for over two hours since the mother had first been frightened away.
“Although she may have returned, at around three days old kittens cannot maintain their own body temperature and need continual feeding.
“I was worried that even if their mother did come back, her kittens would be too cold and hungry to survive or another animal would prey on them once it got dark, so we made the decision to bring them in, maintaining social distancing throughout.”
With the centre only having skeleton staff owing to the current lockdown situation, Ms Jepson has taken on the responsibility for hand-rearing the kittens – one female and two males.
“The kittens are really vulnerable so we have named them after some of the most inspirational people we could think of,” she said.
“Grey-and white Nye is named after Aneurin Bevan who founded the NHS, tabby-and-white AJ is named after AJ Cronin whose book The Citadel paved the way for the NHS and tabby Elizabeth has taken her name from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman to qualify in Britain as a physician and surgeon.
“We hope their names bring them the strength they will need to thrive, but also provides a small nod of recognition to the people who created the healthcare system for which we are all currently so grateful.”
The tiny trio will not be ready to home until they are at least eight weeks old.