FELINES both young and old are looking for homes as a cat shelter marks its first year.

The RSPCA Cat Hub at Aeolian House, Darlington, is the first of its kind in the region.

Opening officially on September 3 last year, the centre takes in cats who have been rescued by RSPCA inspectors and rehomes them through a match-up scheme.

So far, the Cat Hub has rehomed 257 felines, more than the expected 120, and hopes to reach 300 before the centre's first anniversary.

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The hub is funded by five local branches in Darlington, Stockton, Northallerton, Middlesbrough and Sunderland is run by Sophie Moran-Barker and Louise Bluefield, who owns Aeolian House Boarding Kennels with her husband Andrew Bluefield.

Mrs Moran-Barker said the scheme was set up in response to a rehoming demand in the area.

She said: “In this area there just wasn’t a lot for cat rescues. We’re always at full capacity, and if a cat leaves generally the next day another will come in.

“It’s kitten season at the moment so currently we have 17 kittens plus adults.

“The cats come in through RSPCA inspectors so generally there’s been cruelty, neglect or an injured stray. These cats are really from the worst situations so they all have different stories.

"It’s going quite well, better than we thought we would do, so hopefully this will act as a pilot for other areas to do the same."

Among those looking for a home is China, thought to be around two or three years old, and her five kittens.

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Previously someone's pet, China was found in an old rabbit hutch which she had used as a shelter for her newborn kittens.

She was taken in by an inspector and with the kittens, who had never been handled before, was placed into fostering for socialisation before coming to the shelter to be rehomed.

Mrs Moran-Barker said: "There is a process of reserving a cat, then having a home check and coming back in for adoption. It’s quite a simple process and takes about a week.

"We go out to visit the cats afterwards to see how they’re settling which is a really nice thing.

“Ultimately these animals need to have somewhere to be and making sure they have a home is what it's all about."

The Cat Hub will be holding a family open day on August 10 to promote the shelter and raise money for the cats living in it.

The free event, which runs from 11am to 4pm, will have bouncy castles, lazer tag, face painting, as well as competition stalls, tombolas and various local trade stalls.

There will be food and drink available, including a barbecue and a cake sale, and visitors will be given 10-minute tours of the shelter to meet the cats.

The Northern Echo:

The hub is also looking for potential sponsors from local businesses who would be interested in sponsoring a pod where they would be receive pictures and updates from the cats that arrive and are rehomed in that pod.

More information about the Cat Hub, the family fun day and how to rehome a cat can be found at facebook.com/rspcacatrehoming or by calling 07842 434377