An RSPCA cattery in Cheshire is appealing for animal-lovers with the required experience to apply to hand-rear kittens due to a shortage of volunteers.

Kittens who are just weeks old and without their mum have to be hand-reared to give them the best chance of survival. It is an intensive job which often involves tube-feeding the kittens every few hours, sometimes as often as every two hours and including throughout the night.

But despite the intensity of the role, it is incredibly rewarding when the kittens start to get stronger and begin to eat on their own.

The RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange cattery, in Nantwich, often has very young kittens brought in by inspectors after being found dumped or orphaned – but there is a shortage of volunteers to hand-rear them.

Joyce Mellor, deputy manager at Stapeley Grange, said: “It is a lot of work but it is also rewarding and that makes it all worth it. We would like a list of people who we can call on when we have young kittens brought into us, but our list is small and we would like to grow it.

“We are ideally looking for people with past experience of working with cats and we will provide an additional training as and when required.”

Currently the cattery has three young kittens in its care (pictured) who are being hand-reared by an RSPCA inspector. The three black kittens, aged three weeks old, were found abandoned but are now thriving after regular feeds and cuddles.

This time of year is known as “kitten season”, when RSPCA centres across the country are bursting with cats and kittens

“We are in the midst of kitten season right now, which is why we urge cat owners to get their pets neutered to avoid unwanted litters,” added Joyce. “It is important that people get their cats neutered as early as 10 weeks old old to avoid unplanned litters of kittens who sadly can end up dumped like rubbish, much like these unlucky babies.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about hand-rearing kittens should contact lee.stewart@rspca.org.uk.

The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations to exist. It costs the centre £50,000 to feed the 6,500 animals which are admitted every year. The food bill for seals alone costs £500 a week. Anyone who would like to support the vital work of Stapeley Grange can now donate online at www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/rspcahq/stapeleygrange.