MICHAEL DOUGLAS has enlisted an unlikely ally in his effort to win back estranged wife Catherine Zeta-Jones – his mother-in-law!

The 69-year-old actor and Cath­erine’s Welsh mom, Pat, have never really hit it off. But sources tell The ENQUIRER that Michael bit the bullet for the sake of his two children with Catherine, son Dylan, 13, and daughter Carys, 10. The star had a heart-to-heart talk with Pat before Thanksgiving, hoping that she could convince her famous daughter to give the marriage another try.

“Michael is des­perate to save the marriage because of the kids,” said a source. “He poured out his heart to Pat and told her she had to get through to Catherine.

“Michael’s effort to stay close to Dylan and Carys throughout their separation has really impressed Pat. And if she doesn’t intervene, the couple will have no choice but to bring in the divorce lawyers after the holidays. Michael is dead-set against that. He wants a reconciliation.”

Another insider told The ENQUIRER that Pat, 65, was particu­larly moved by how Michael pitched in with the kids over the summer while Catherine, 44, was re­covering from a minor setback of her bipolar II disorder. The ENQUIRER reported that while Pat stayed at Catherine’s side at the couple’s home in Bedford, N.Y., Michael took the kids to a 250-acre lakefront property he owns in Canada.

And a UK tab recently revealed that Michael has stayed in­volved with the family, walking from his Manhattan bachelor pad to his former Central Park West home each morning to cook pancakes for Cath­erine and the kids. Then, according to the paper, he returns in the evening to watch TV with Dylan and Carys before they go to bed.

“Michael wants to get back together with Catherine – that’s his Christmas wish,” said the insider. “He loves those kids and doesn’t want to neglect them the way he did (his jailed older son) Cameron.

“If it means hiking over to his old apartment every morning to whip up his kids’ favorite fluffy pancakes with maple syrup, that’s nothing for him.

“He’s hoping Pat sees how hard he’s trying and she can sway Catherine to give their marriage a second chance before it’s too late.”

The British report noted that Cath­erine was impressed by Michael’s efforts, but the two have been living separate lives for the past eight months and haven’t been photographed to­gether since they attended an awards gala in New York City last April.

On Thanksgiving, Michael post­ed a photo of himself on Facebook standing on the balcony of his New York apartment during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In the background were his son Dylan and a pal.

Added the source: “Next Thanks­giving, he hopes Catherine will be in the picture too.”