GIZMO the kitten sparked a full-scale rescue when she got stuck at the top of an electricity pole and came within a whisker of death.

The curious kitten came to a standstill 30ft up the pole and was getting electric shocks every time she moved.

RSPCA animal collection officer Kirsten Anderson decided to take matters into her own hands.

Risking her own life, she attached a metal grab to a long pole and carefully inched it past the live wires to stop the kitten moving about.

Firefighters and electricity company officials were called out to help the animal in Stanley, County Durham.

As rescuers waited for the electricity to be turned off, Gizmo became increasingly agitated and Ms Anderson jumped into auto-pilot.

Ms Anderson said: "It was a risky thing to do because the electricity was still on. The gripper had a rubber handle and the electricity worker helped me earth it.

"I couldn't wait any longer because the poor cat was getting really panicky. The owners had tried everything to get her to come down, but she was so scared."

Gizmo's owner, Michael McDermott, stood anxiously at the bottom of the pole with his wife, Sharon, and children Connor, six, Travis, two, and Kai, seven months.

Mrs McDermott said: "We had been out shopping and returned to see the drama outside our house. I couldn't believe it when I realised Gizmo was at the centre of it all.

"We tried everything to tempt her down. We even lifted up a bag of turkey to her but it didn't work. She must have been up there for two or three hours."

A Northern Electric spokesman said: "We didn't have to turn off supplies, although we have disconnected the electricity on previous occasions when something like this happened."