A group of volunteers are out on the streets of Huddersfield – trying to corral a colony of 70 cats.
Members of cat protection groups have joined forces to capture the cats, which have been roaming the streets of Springwood.
So far, 10 of the cats have been captured using humane baited traps and taken to vets for chipping and neutering.
They are now being fostered until they can be re-homed or – in the case of cats that have been reported missing – reunited with their owners.
Sarah Styles, administrator for the Huddersfield Lost and Found Pets Facebook page, said: “I have been involved in cat rescue and looking after stray cats for six or seven years but I have never seen so many cats in one place in all my life.”
She said residents in Springwood had been feeding the felines – but the numbers were now getting out of hand.
Sarah, who lives at Oakes, said the cat colony came to light when some students living in the area contacted Batley-based animal rescue group Heronbank Rescue with their concerns about some cats they were feeding. The students said there were about 40 cats but when volunteers went to check they found about 70.
A number of organisations have now got together, including Cats Protection and Heronbank Rescue, to round up the animals, get them neutered and micro-chipped and find homes for them.
One of the 10 already captured which had already been chipped, turned out to have been missing for three months from Brighouse and has now been reunited with its owners.
Asked how the colony had grown, Sarah said: “Someone in the area must have had some cats which started breeding and got free. Other cats have been attracted when the females are on heat and they have continued to breed. The neighbours have been very good and fed them because the cats are in pretty good condition.”
Sarah said just two of the cats caught so far were clearly feral and would need training before they could be found homes.
“By running the lost and found site we know how many cats are missing in the Huddersfield area,” she said.
“Some of these cats could be people’s much-loved missing pets. We want to get the word out about our Facebook page and ask people to add photos of their missing pets. A number of the cats are not chipped and hopefully will be re-homed if their owners do not come forward.”
Sarah also appealed for donations of food, cat carriers and bedding, which can be donated at Vets4Pets, New Hey Road, Oakes. While Cat Protection pays for neutering, fundraising is also under way to pay for any additional medical treatment that may be needed.