CHARITY Cats Protection, which provides free and confidential foster care for pets if their owners have to flee domestic abuse, is looking to recruit more volunteer fosterers across the Wellington and West Somerset areas in the New Year.

Cats Protection’s Lifeline service offers temporary care for cats in a home environment, enabling domestic abuse sufferers to reach safety knowing their cat will be looked after until they can be reunited.

But in order to help more people, the charity is in desperate need of more volunteer fosterers who can offer a temporary home to a cat in need.

Cats Protection Lifeline manager Amy Hyde said: “Many people want to start a New Year by making a resolution to help others.

“Joining our Lifeline team as a volunteer cat fosterer could be the perfect opportunity.

“Not only do our volunteers help cats, they also provide an opportunity for victim-survivors to get to safety knowing that their beloved pet cat will also be safe.

“We know that in cases of domestic abuse, pets are often targeted as a way to control or coerce a victim-survivor into staying.

“And as most refuges are unable to accept pets, this can be a significant barrier for people seeking support and safe housing.

“By offering free and confidential cat foster care, Lifeline helps to remove that barrier and gives victim-survivors the time, space, and opportunity they need to get to a safe place.”

Referrals to Lifeline, previously called Paws Protect, come from either owners themselves or a support worker.

Once in Lifeline’s care, cats are given a full health check before going to a volunteer fosterer who is provided with everything they need to make sure the cat remains happy and healthy until they can be reunited with their owner.

After supporting cats in the South East for nearly 20 years, Lifeline was recently also expanded into Yorkshire, East Anglia, and the Midlands.

Ms Hyde said: “We have fostered over 330 cats during 2023, enabling over 200 owners to get to safety, but we need more cat fosterers to turn it into a UK-wide service.”

Cats Protection is the UK’s largest cat charity, helping an average of 157,000 cats and kittens every year through a network of more than 210 volunteer-run branches and 34 centres.

Anybody interested in finding out more about becoming a volunteer, or other ways to support the Lifeline service, can visit the website here.

If somebody is experiencing domestic abuse or knows somebody who is, they should call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, at any time on 0808 2000 247.