Conan the cat with her favourite feline friend, Nats.

The Cats Protection adoption centre in Downham Market is bracing itself for one of its busiest times of the year – kitten season.

With 56 cats already on site when I visited, I can’t quite imagine the amount of work that goes in to looking after them.

“Fifty-six is low for us,” said Lindsay Tempest who manages the centre in Stowbridge.

“Today we will be picking up seven cats as their owner has passed away. And in two months we will be inundated with kittens.”

The centre, part of a national charity, receives no government funding and relies on fundraising.

Yet I have often heard people say in jest they will leave their money to the ‘cats home’ after they die – do people actually do this?

“Yes, more than 50 per cent of our money is legacy,” said Lindsay. “If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t be able to do half our work.”

And it’s evident the nine staff and around 50 volunteers work hard with cleaning pens, feeding, administering medication and trips to the vets.

I was shown around the centre – a risky business with me being a cat person – all those fluffy faces saying ‘take me home’.

And sadly, it’s usually the moggies which are black, older, or on medication that no one wants.

“We do handbag checks on the way out,” Lindsay joked.

Not surprisingly, staff often arrive at work in the morning to see yet another abandoned cat or two.

Lindsay said: “We tend to name those ones after alcohol. We’ve had many Brandys and Pernods. But it is heart-breaking. We tend to put emotion to one side and switch into help mode.”

Lindsay would advise anyone who is struggling with their pet to call the centre: “Just be honest, we will help the best we can. But if you have a cat, please get pet insurance. It’s usually owners not being able to afford the vet bills which causes the cats needing to be re-homed.”

Lindsay added the increase of people renting has had an knock-on effect, both with cats needing homes and pet owners forced to give up their much-loved fluffy friends to move into a rented home.

She said: “We have people that would make great owners but their landlords say no. It’s a problem.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at the centre should email volunteering@cats.org.uk

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