VOLUNTEERS and staff at a Warsop’s Whiteley Shelter cat rescue centre are desperate to find loving homes for their furry friends.
The Mansfield Road branch of the Cats Protection organisation is at full capacity - but there are still 300 animals on a waiting list for a space at the cattery.
Acting manager Jane Holt said pets were often hit hard when economic times were tough - as owners realised they could not afford to keep them properly.
“I think that people are struggling and its often the pet that suffers.
“Either they come to the conclusion they cannot afford things like food and vet bills, or they have to move to a smaller home - perhaps a rented flat where pets are not allowed.”
Health scares related to the toxoplasmosis parasite - which is harmful to embryos and can transfer from cats to humans - had also prompted some families to give up their pet.
Said Jane: “We believe that it is actually quite difficult to catch toxoplasmosis from a cat - but people do not know the full story.
“Part of the service we offer is education for people on issues like these.”
The cattery was set up in 1996 and now includes an isolation unit for sick cats, a mother and kitten unit and a garden area to give the cats a space to stretch their legs.
Recent fundraising efforts have focused on collecting donations towards a new roof for the garden area - the last one was ruined in the severe winter weather.
Volunteer Alison Hill-Clarke, who is part of a team of 25 workers who give up their spare time for the centre, said she loved the job.
“The staff at the cattery are fantastic - all of them go above and beyond their job description.
“They don’t just throw you together with any old cat - they match the right cat to the right person.
“I first came here looking for a cat of my own and it was Jane who paired me up with perfect cat - Charlie.
“Charlie helped us through some difficult times - he has been a great addition to our family.”
Little is known about some of the cats brought into the cattery, who are often strays or abandoned pets.
Two-year-old Tom cat Henry had a lucky escape after someone tried to strangle him.
“When he came to us he was in a very poor state. Someone had put loads of wire around his neck and tried to strangle him. It was a horrible thing for him to go through.”
But Henry has fully recovered from the ordeal and although Jane says he is full of ‘catitude’ - perhaps understandably.
The cattery had quite a task on its hands when it was discovered someone had been living with 50 cats in a one bedroom flat.
Said Jane: “Cats Protection helped with the rescue operation. It was unbelievable someone could be living in such a small place with so many animals.”
l An open day is taking place at Whiteley Shelter on Sunday 4th September.
There will be refreshment stalls, cakes, games for youngsters, bric-a-brac, cat merchandise on sale and hot cobs. All funds raised go towards the upkeep of the cattery.
Entrance costs £1 for adults, free for children. The event takes place from 11am-3pm.