A DEVASTATED mum is fighting to keep her beloved pet alive after it contracted a strain of coronavirus.

Samantha Howard, from Tyldesley, bought a British Shorthair kitten from a local breeder in the summer, to the delight of her three kids.

Calling her Nala, the family fell in love with their new pet, but in a devastating turn of events, the kitten quickly became unwell and was later diagnosed with Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).

FIP is a rare mutation from a strain of feline coronavirus (FCoV) and is usually declared as fatal and the animal has to be put down.

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Leigh Journal: The British Shorthair was bought by Samantha in the summerThe British Shorthair was bought by Samantha in the summer (Image: Samantha Howard)

However, not prepared to give up on Nala, NHS worker Samantha did some research and found vets who are trialling treatment for FIP.

The treatment, which has shown successful results in the US, consists of fortnightly Remdesivir injections over a 90-day period.

However, as the trial treatment is not currently covered by pet insurance, it will cost Samantha between £6,000 and £9,000 for the treatment and frequent visits to the Bolton Animal Trust.

Desperate to save their "beautiful girl", Samantha sold the family Mercedes to help fund the treatment and is now fundraising to give Nala the best chance of survival.

Leigh Journal: Samantha and the kids were devastated when Nala became illSamantha and the kids were devastated when Nala became ill (Image: Samantha Howard)

Samantha, 36, said: "Me and the kids all fell in love with Nala but once she got ill, she deteriorated rapidly.

"I had accepted that I was going to have to put her down, which would have devastated the kids, when I found out about the research and trials that are going on.

"It's amazing because the vets said she was on the verge of dying, but the medication has made a massive difference already - she's like a brand new cat."

Leigh Journal: Nala has been responding well to the trial treatmentNala has been responding well to the trial treatment (Image: Samantha Howard)

Around a month into the 90-day treatment, Samantha said Nala is re-gaining strength and has been able to get rid of much of the fluid that was building in her organs.

However, after selling her car and using all the savings she had, the 36-year-old is now appealing for help to ensure Nala can finish the so-far successful treatment.

Leigh Journal: Samantha is fundraising to ensure Nala can finish her treatmentSamantha is fundraising to ensure Nala can finish her treatment (Image: Samantha Howard)

Thankful for the support she has received so far, Samantha added: "I'm fundraising because of how expensive the treatment is and I've done everything I can to contribute towards it.

"But I'm also sharing the story to let pet owners know about the virus because it's so deadly and there is no treatment that is covered by pet insurance - and I had no idea about it.

"Everyone who has a pet understands that you will do everything you can for them, so I hope this treatment can save Nala."

To support Samantha's fundraiser and help to fund Nala's treatment, you can visit the donation page here.

Leigh Journal: Samantha and NalaSamantha and Nala (Image: Samantha Howard)