In recent weeks we have experienced an influx of abandoned kittens and pregnant or new mother cats.

This is a heartbreaking situation, and a high number are friendly and well socialised, meaning that they they have been living in homes as pets.

Tom and Jerry, an adorable pair of little black babies were abandoned by their owner and were heard mewing in the middle of the night. The people who heard them looked outside, but couldn't find them - however in the morning they found them curled up together on their doorstep. These poor little mites gravitated to the house because that was what they knew, and were confident enough to show themselves; thank goodness that the people who found them were kind and gave them help.

Silver Star and Silver Pip, a young mother cat and her only surviving kitten were spotted by a motorist. Star was carrying her little son across a busy road, so starved that she was wobbling on her legs, and her baby Pip was extremely weak. Not everyone would have helped them or even slowed down, but they were lucky and are now in our care and waiting for a loving home.

We found Rascal and Ripple, a little brother and sister  abandoned at our centre in a cage, dirty, hungry and very thirsty. They are only a few weeks old and far too young to be rehomed yet, although they are currently doing well in one of our wonderful foster homes. However, they are well socialised, sweet and friendly, so again have been in a home - perhaps remaining kittens from an unwanted litter. Whatever the reason, the only thing to say in this case is that we are glad they were left with us instead of being sold on the internet, or abandoned on their own to die of starvation or as prey.

These three pairs of beautiful kitties are the lucky ones - many more are not found or helped, and it is so avoidable.

All rescues advocate neutering. It is the responsible thing to do and is the only humane way of controlling the feline population. Yet despite neutering schemes such as the RSPCA vouchers, PDSA and various rescue centres that can offer assistance, people continue to leave their cats unneutered. This results in unwanted kittens, sickness and in some cases disease such as FIV.

When taking on cats and kittens, it is so important to calculate the cost of food, litter, insurance plus regular parasite treatment, vet visits or vets health scheme. A healthy cat can live for 16 to 20 years so this is also a long term commitment. For the many people in privately rented homes, it is essential that permission is given to keep cats and to look for homes that will allow them when the time comes to move. If a home that will allow pets cannot be found, abandoning is not a kind option and is so often simply apainful death sentence.

We know that all three pairs featured here will go to loving homes, but their outcome could have been so different.

If you are thinking about kittens, think rescue kittens and call our centre on 01580 241632.