A woman was left heartbroken after being sold a sickly kitten on Gumtree which died at just a few months old.
Dianna Voyatzis, 23, took little Ghost to the vet for some routine vaccinations and was shocked to be told she had just two days to live.
Originally from Hull but now living in London, Dianna was forced to spend almost every day indoors during the pandemic after being diagnosed with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), HullLive reports.
This nasty bacterial infection caused a complete loss of function in her right arm and made her particularly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.
In April 2020 she bought Ghost to help keep her company alongside her bulldogs and her other 15-year-old cat.
"Without her, I am not sure I would have made it through the lockdown," Dianna said.
"There was no cat quite like Ghost and I know no cat will never come near to her. Every night she slept on my chest, she was my best friend and the bond we had was irreplaceable."
But she got a nasty shock when she took Ghost to the vet for routine vaccinations in November.
"I was told that she had a heart murmur and that her stomach was full of fluid - I thought I was just overfeeding her," Dianna said.
"But the vet said it was a rare condition that was beyond his expertise."
Despite spending £500 on an ultrasound examination, different vet appointments and various remedies for Ghost, Dianna was told that her beloved cat only had two days to live and sure enough, she passed away in December.
A heartbroken Dianna said: "She was an angel, and I know she's gone to help others now - that's why she left so suddenly.
"She helped me through my health and I can't thank her enough for that.
"I know now she is free and no longer in pain and the fact we will meet again is the only way I am staying strong."
Now Dianna, who is soon due to start work as a police 999 call operator, has started a petition - which has already amassed over 3,400 signatures - to try and stymie the unregistered breeders who have taken advantage of the increase in demand for puppies and kittens during lockdown.
The price of puppies especially has risen exponentially during lockdown, with unscrupulous breeders making a fortune off the back of cute animals and willing buyers.
With 10,000 signatures, Dianna's campaign for "Ghost's Law", seeking to ensure that kittens are vaccinated and checked over by a vet before being sold, will require the government to respond by law to her petition.
If it receives 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in Parliament. Anyone who wants to support Dianna's campaign can sign the petition by clicking here.
A spokesperson for Gumtree said: "We take the welfare of animals extremely seriously and were saddened to hear about Dianna's experience.
"We work hard to ensure our site is a safe place to find pets in need of rehoming, and we are committed to educating our users on how to buy pets safely and responsibly. We encourage all our users to always check medical records and to never purchase a pet before going to see it in person.
"We work with Pets Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) - the UK's trade body covering online animal sales made up of 25 welfare organisations including Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs & Cats, RSPCA and DEFRA among others - to comply with all of their 18 standards. These industry-endorsed standards improve animal welfare in an e-commerce environment.
"We encourage anyone thinking of welcoming an animal into their family to familiarise themselves with our advice on safely rehoming pets."