A woman has been forced to live off one meal a week so she could continue feeding her six cats. Yasemn Kaptan, from Tottenham, London, said she has been skipping meals for a year to be able to provide for her pets after she had to quit her job following health issues.
The 46-year-old stay-at-home carer receives a £69 allowance a week - £60 of which she spends on her felines. Yasemn also receives £400 monthly disability benefit due to her osteoporosis, which goes on rent and bills.
She said she drinks mint tea to stave off hunger and has lost five stone since cutting down her food intake. Yasemn said she got her cats when she worked as a personal shopper and could comfortably look after herself and the cats and pay her bills.
But she had to leave her job after being diagnosed with osteoporosis - leaving her with less money. 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."
Yasemn said she refused 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. Starving herself has also resulted in her weight plummeting from 14 stone to nine stone.
Yasemn’s one meal usually consists of BBQ vegetables like peppers, onions and salad.
Otherwise, she drinks mint tea for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She said: "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.”
She added: "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 and they keep me going.
"I eat once a week. I just have mint tea or liquids throughout the week. If I eat it has to be something soft like yoghurt or vegetables. I cry every other day, I am trying to be happy with myself but I am down and tired. Some weeks I am not eating properly at all and I just have fluids to keep me going."