A pet owner claims the cost of living crisis means she sometimes can only afford one meal a week – as she spends any leftover cash feeding her cats.
Yasemn Kaptan, 46, says she has been skipping meals for a year so that she is able to provide for her six beloved pets.
The stay-at-home carer from Tottenham, north London, says she “can’t let [the cats] go” as she has had them since they were kittens.
Kaptan got her cats when she worked as a personal shopper and could comfortably look after herself and the cats and pay her bills, she says.
But she had to leave her job after being diagnosed with osteoporosis – leaving her with less money.
Kaptan receives a £69 allowance a week – £60 of which she spends on her pets.
She also receives £400 monthly disability benefit due to her osteoporosis, which goes on rent and bills.
Kaptan says she drinks mint tea to stave off hunger and has lost five stone since having to cut down on food.
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But she refuses to get rid of her cats as she doesn't know how she or her partner, Erdinc Hassain, 46, who is living with multiple sclerosis, would cope without them.
She said: "I don't have any money to spare – but I can't let [the cats] go. They have grown up with us. I have had them since they were little babies.
"I paid a lot of money to have them, they are at the end of their life. it really isn't fair to let them go."
Kaptan says that she has lost five stone since cutting down to one meal a week, which usually consists of BBQ vegetables like peppers, onions and salad.
She added: "When I get my carer's allowance it goes on cat litter, cat food, biscuits and special milk, it takes up all my money. I can only just about pay my phone bill.
"My partner is worried about me but I have got used to it by now. I will be okay, things will get better.
"There is nothing I can do, I will not get rid of my cats. I have had them for 17 years, they are my little babies they keep me going."
Campaigners have recently warned that the cost of living crisis meant millions of dogs and cats were at risk of being abandoned or put down.
Over three million pets were introduced to British homes during lockdown, adding to the more than half of adults in the UK who own an animals.
Some 20% of pet owners are now worried about the cost of feeding their pet alongside paying for increased energy bills, food prices and mortgage payments, according to the RSPCA.
The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) estimate the cost of pet ownership to be more than £100 every month, adding to the financial burden for millions of struggling Britons.
The charity also said that four million pet owners have cut back on their weekly food shop to ensure they can continue looking after their pets during the cost of living crisis.
The RSPCA added that there were 22,908 pet abandonments between January and July last year – up from 18,375 in the same period in 2021.
It comes amid wider warnings that living standards have stagnated and Britain’s economy is in a “deep funk”, following chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s spring budget on Wednesday.
The Resolution Foundation said it had been a disastrous decade for living standards, with typical real household disposable incomes on track to remain lower by the end of the forecast (2027-28) than they were before the pandemic (2019-20).