A Rolleston charity is giving stray cats in Staffordshire and Derbyshire the chance of a brand new life - reducing the number of homeless felines in the area.
The Blue Cross in Rolleston invited the Burton Mail to have a look around its cattery, which has already helped 15 cats find "forever homes" in the last four months.
Among the furry residents, we met five-year-old Lionel and Scrabble, 6, as well as three-year-old Tinsel who found herself a new home just before the festive period.
One of the major success stories for the centre, which was set up in 2006 purely to care for ill and abandoned horses, is Lionel.
One of the cattery volunteers, Susi Ludlow said: "When he came to us Lionel was very unsocialised. He was not used to strangers but within a few weeks of care he came out of his shell. He was really scared but is now ready to go to a new home."
Lionel was kept outdoors in a pen with other cats before he was rescued.
Thankfully, Tinsel, who came to the centre as a stray has been found a new home, alongside Lionel who spent Christmas in his 'forever home.'
The cattery can look after six animals at any one time and since its opening in August, 15 cats have passed through with 11 successfully rehomed, with four others transferred to separate centres.
Katie McAlister, the Blue Cross’s rehoming network manager for Central and East, said: "We definitely saw there was a consistent need for rehoming cats in the area as there is in other areas of the country but there are definitely less catteries around this area so we thought it would be a good idea to open one up.
"There are lots of stray cats around and people’s lives change so sometimes they need to relinquish their cats and find them a different home. We tend to find that there is a need all over the country. There is not one specific area. But we did find that people were asking to rehome within the Derbyshire and Staffordshire areas and we didn’t necessarily have a facility in the area at the time.
"There were also lots of volunteers inquiring about working with different animals so it was a great opportunity to get more people involved."
She said cats ended up at the Blue Cross for a variety of different reasons, with staff taking in cats for all different kinds of situations.
Kate said: "Sometimes they are strays that people have found, for example, in their gardens and are wanting to bring them in for rehoming. Sometimes people have relinquished cats for all manner of different reasons so they have come into us for that reason and sometimes we also take cats off other charities that might need us to help them out."
Tinsel is one such example - picked up as a stray by another centre who did not have the room to care for her before her transfer to Rolleston.
Kate added: "We started with two pens and quickly within about four weeks we filled it up completely. And that’s purely because it is volunteer-led. We have about 30 volunteers on the books and they work at the cattery on a shift basis.
"So we wanted to make sure we had enough volunteers to run the cattery as we wanted it to be run and within a month we were up and running and it has been running really well ever since."
She says the public reaction to the Blue Cross has been "brilliant" as it gives cats the chance of a new life – along with the nine they already have.
Kate said: "We tend to find that people who like horses tend to like other animals too so it is a really good captive audience that we have here already as well as a general public who, perhaps, don’t have anything to do with horses that come down to chat to us about rehoming cats."
Further information about the Blue Cross centre’s cattery is available by visiting www.bluecross.org.uk clicking rehome a pet, and click on cats specifically. Would-be owners can also do a postcode search for cats looking for a home in their area.
The public can also submit a home finder form which is a basic questionnaire about you and the home you could offer a cat.
The centre is also looking for volunteers in Rolleston and throughout Blue Cross centres. They are looking for volunteers at the cattery, but also general volunteers to help out with fund-raising and events.