A group of animal-lovers who head out night and day to reports of dogs lost or abandoned on the streets of Blackpool are extending their services to cats.
Homeward Bound, a resort-based volunteer group, captures and scans pets in the hopes of reuniting them with their owners.
Previously, the group focused mainly on dogs, but that is all about to change, as they have announced that, for the new year, they are starting up their own small animal shelter for cats.
Group volunteer and organiser Wendy Mulela, from Lytham, said: “Quite often we come across cats that have been stray for some time, and especially in the winter months we need to get them somewhere warm and safe. Unfortunately, in this area, though we have a lot of cat shelters, they are all very busy.
“We have taken in cats at Homeward Bound before, and after some discussion we decided that we would operate our own small rescue.”
The rescue, in Newhouse Road, Marton, will provide shelter to cats whose owners cannot be traced through a microchip.
Unfortunately, Wendy said, cats are less likely to be microchipped than their canine counterparts.
This, along with the fact that many cats like to wander, means that tracking down their owners can be difficult.
Wendy said: “In a lot of ways it’s more important for a cat to be chipped, because cats do roam. We find a lot of deceased cats and when they are not chipped it makes it far more difficult to find their owner and give them closure. We are looking at doing a cat chipping campaign in the summer. Some of our volunteers are qualified microchippers, and we’re looking at running some free microchipping sessions.
"It may not reduce the amount of deceased cats, because they can do get knocked over on the road completely by accident, but it will enable us to find the owners of stray and dead cats so they have got closure.
"We have found cats in totally different areas to where they have gone missing, but because they have been microchipped we've been able to bring them home."
Why should you microchip your cat?
Microchipping is the best way to make sure you can be re-united with your pet if it gets lost.
Every microchip, which can be easily inserted into a dog or cat’s neck by a vet, contains a 15 digit number which can be used to access an owner’s phone number, home address and email address on one of several UK pet databases.
This is why it is important that when you move house, or change your phone number, you make sure your database details are updated too.
Most vets offer microchipping for around £15 - but some animal charities will do it for free. Dog owners must chip their dogs - or face a £500 fine.