Feline welfare charity Cats Protection has launched an appeal for more fosterers to provide a temporary home for cats whose families are fleeing domestic abuse.
The call comes following the expansion of the service, now called Lifeline, into Yorkshire, East Anglia and the Midlands after supporting cats in the South East of England for almost 20 years.
As many refuges are unable to accept pets, the Lifeline service places cats in temporary foster homes, enabling survivors to get to safety knowing their cat will be looked after until they can be reunited again.
The service is totally anonymous and fosterers will not know who the owner is, or where they live, and the cat will be cared for in an area well away from its original address. However, the charity sends the owners regular updates including photos.
A recent survey of domestic abuse professionals revealed that nearly eight in 10 have encountered cases where cats or kittens were physically abused, while nine in 10 said a pet cat can be used to control and coerce a partner or family member and stop them from leaving.
National Lifeline manager Amy Hyde said: “Lifeline can offer people a much-needed way out as it’s even more challenging for them to leave if they are worried about what will happen to their cat if left behind.
“This is especially the case for those who are financially dependent on the perpetrator, as well as those who have been isolated from friends and family and have limited other options to keep their cat safe.”