Marlene spends £700 per month on her moggies
RETIRED Marlene Howes has spent almost 50 years breeding and showing cats.
But her prize-winning felines come at a price – she spends more than £700 a month on her moggies.
The 67-year-old from Whitecroft, near Lydney, has 40 Persian cats.
She said: "Everything I do is for the cats. They get fed the best food and sleep in the best beds. They get free rein of the house and garden and the fields at the back.
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"I'll admit I'm a slave to my cats – I would do anything for them and they're very pampered."
Cat breeding runs in the family for Marlene, as her mother Barbara Patch was also one of the leading breeders of Persian cats.
When Barbara passed away in 2004, Marlene took on her pets.
She said: "She left all her money to the cats. I used it to pay for the cats' living costs – vets bills, food, litter, that kind of thing.
"I also had a small conservatory built at the back of my house for the cats to use. It's got a couple of sofas and some other bits in there for them to climb on and play with."
Last year, Marlene was cleared of benefit fraud over the £84,000 inheritance from her late mother which was intended for caring for the cats.
Marlene and her mother have won thousands of prizes and their cats in the past have been sent around the world – winning best of show awards in many countries.
Marlene's cats even contributed to the breakdown of her marriage in the 1970s – even though Marlene only had six cats at that time.
Marlene said: "It got to the point where my husband more or less said 'It's me or the cats' and I chose the cats.
"He felt I was spending too much time and money on them.
"I'm now limited to cat shows near to my house because of petrol costs.
"It's not like before when my mother and I went up and down the country to shows in front of packed audiences.
"I honestly don't even know how I'll continue to feed them – it's a very sad state of affairs."