LOVING homes are being sought for abandoned cats who have been left out in the cold this winter.

Independent cat charity Cats R Us currently have 14 furry felines hoping to find a forever home.

The cats, mostly mature brindle Tortie queens, have either been locked out or left behind when an owner has moved house.

Marion Maychell, who has volunteered for the Shildon based charity for more than 25 years, is appealing to anyone who thinks they could offer a cat a good home, to come forward.

She said: “We take cats in year round but the winter is always a particularly bad time.

“We always see an influx in the number we have and at the minute we have more than a dozen.

“I’m not sure why it gets worse, but I think it’s part to do with people being given cats for Christmas and then changing their mind.

“Or I think people get a new puppy or they decide to move into a new house and they leave the cat behind.

“It’s out with the old and in with the new.”

Cats R Us takes in vulnerable, sick, injured, often distressed cats and kittens, rehabilitates them and prepares them for a new home.

​The cats stay with foster homes until they are adopted and appointments to view must be made in advance.

The charity also supports local feral colonies by supplying food which can be donated to the fundraising store.

The store is based at South West Durham Business Centre in Shildon and is open weekdays excluding Wednesdays from 10am till noon.

Mrs Maychell, who lives in Shildon and is also a trustee of Cats R Us, added: “Cats are not for Christmas, they need loving, stable homes with somebody responsible who has the time for them.

“Most of them need to be kept as house cats due to their fear of humans but in time they will adapt and learn to trust people.

“They can live for 15 to 20 years so owners need to be prepared for that.

“And they also need to be prepared for the expense, food, etc. it is much cheaper to adopt a cat than to buy one and all of our cats are vaccinated and neutered.”

Anybody who is interested in adopting a cat should contact the charity direct on 07980-864393.

Mrs Maychell, who has four cats of her own, added: “Cats are as diverse as people and they make very good companions, they can help lower blood pressure and relieve stress and anxiety.

“They also give people something to come home to.”

For more information about the charity and the work of the volunteers visit catsrus.org.uk