The plea comes after an extremely busy week at the charity, when every single phone call was from people asking for help. Even so, volunteers were told by members of the public that they weren’t doing enough which has put a dampener on everyone’s spirit.

Last year, the re-homing charity in Keighley adopted out 894 cats and kittens – up from 833 in 2015 and 784 in 2015.

Yorkshire Cat Rescue has already taken in 554 cats and found new homes for 405 in 2017. 150 cats are in foster care and will need to be put up for adoption when they are old enough, well enough and when the charity has space in the re-homing centre.

But despite everyone’s best efforts, Sara Atkinson, founder of Yorkshire Cat Rescue says she is disheartened by comments that they are not doing enough: “We are absolutely here to help and we try to prioritise the most urgent, heart-breaking cases of sick, injured, pregnant and abandoned cats and kittens. Sadly, we can’t help everyone and it is really tough for our staff to say ‘no’ when asked – especially when, right now, that is happening a dozen or more times each day. The feeling of inadequacy is made far worse when our staff and volunteers are abused and criticised over the phone, in person or on Facebook for ‘not wanting to help’. That is literally all we do here and the pressure on us to do more is greater than ever.”

Yorkshire Cat Rescue currently has 200 entries on its waiting list with many of them featuring two or more cats in need of help. Nearly 30 are highlighted in bright ‘red’ which is code for ‘danger of death’. These are typically cats that have been taken to the vet to be put to sleep, cats and kittens living outside, and cats whose owner has died or been taken into hospital.

Sara says: “Just this weekend, we found new homes for seven cats but that only made space for two new ones at the centre because those that left were sharing a pen, and their roommates are still here. On Saturday alone we had 15 calls from people asking us to rehome their cats because they no longer wanted it, were moving house and so on.

“Demand for help is simply outstripping supply by a factor of 10 right now and I am urging people to explore all available options for re-homing a healthy, friendly pet cat, rather than relying on crowded and stretched re-homing charities.

“Although we want to help and do our utmost every single day, the responsibility for someone’s pet cat is ultimately theirs. So my plea to all pet owners is to think carefully about what would happen to your cat or dog if you suddenly became unable to care for them. And then make a plan for where they will go to ensure their wellbeing and your peace of mind.”