GIZMO the kitten sparked a full scale rescue operation when she got stuck on top of a pylon and came within a whisker of death.

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

RSPCA animal collection officer, Kirsten Anderson, decided to take matters into her own hands and risk her own life, dicing with live wires.She attached a metal grab to several long poles and carefully inched it into position.

Firefighters, the RSPCA and electricity board officials were all called out to help the panic-stricken animal in Stanley, County Durham.

As her 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 could not 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."

Michael McDermott, who owns Gizmo, stood anxiously at the bottom of the telegraph 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 all 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 about two or three hours."

A Northern Electric spokesman said: "Our line crew helped the RSPCA to remove the kitten from the pylon.

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