Yorkshire Cat Rescue has launched a campaign to sign up families to help care for pregnant cats and young kittens until they can be put up for adoption.

The Keighley-based charity depends on short-term foster families to help nurse and socialise kittens that might otherwise have been neglected or born outside to a life as strays. But as summer holidays approach, and with more than 120 cats and kittens already in foster homes, the situation is becoming critical.

“We have 12 mother cats on our waiting list of urgent cases, and that number keeps rising. These cats are either already nursing a recently born litter, or are heavily pregnant and in need of a safe home to give birth and raise their kittens in. But as many of our regular foster families head off on much deserved holidays, we have nowhere to put them,” says Sara Atkinson, founder of Yorkshire Cat Rescue.

Cats and kittens can be in a foster home for a few weeks or as long as 2-3 months, depending on their general health and age.

Sara explains: “People can offer to help out for a short period, or opt in a full summer of fun with kittens. It helps if people have had a cat before, but our staff and network of experienced foster families are here to help anyone able to lend a hand, while they get the hang of it. Often, the most important thing is time."

Some of the charity’s foster families are currently caring for more than one litter of kittens, but more keep coming.

Sara says: “Every day we get calls from either vets or the public about pregnant cats and kittens that have been found outside – typically under a shed or somewhere secluded in a garden. If they are to stand a chance of becoming friendly family pets, we need to get them into a home environment urgently. Kittens that are raised in a typical, busy household, make excellent pets, so this early care and socialisation is absolutely essential.

"Being involved in raising a litter of kittens is a great experience for adults and children alike, and we couldn't save as many cats as we do without our foster families. And of course we cover all bills and provide all the necessary equipment."

Yorksire Cat Rescue runs regular foster induction sessions at the centre, and anyone interested in signing up can visit this page: https://yorkshirecatrescue.org/i-want-to-foster