More than 10,000 cats have been rehomed since the start of the coronavirus crisis thanks to a charity’s efforts to overcome lockdown restrictions.

Cats Protection came up with a doorstep delivery system called Hands-Free Homing during the first lockdown period in March to ensure cats could still find new homes.

The charity used interactive video to match prospective owners with possible pets before taking the animals direct to the doorstep if a match was made.

Once restrictions allowed, they also brought in Covid-safe collection at their centres following the same online matching process.

Sandra and Anthony Fludgate, from Datchet in Berkshire, used Hands-Free Homing when they adopted a kitten called Hans from Harrow Homing Centre.

Mrs Fludgate said: “We felt totally safe in their care, which was important to us as my husband is disabled and vulnerable and was shielding.

“He loves cats and, as we’ve discovered, kittens definitely keep you young.”

By November Cats Protection’s new processes had helped the charity home 10,859 cats since the start of lockdown.

One of the first cats to benefit was Jess, who found a new home with North Yorkshire couple Claire and Paul McGinley.

Mrs McGinley said the couple were keen to adopt an older cat.

Shane, a cat adopted through Cats Protection
Shane was named after Pogues singer Shane MacGowan (Cats Protection/PA)

“It was hard choosing from the worthy cases on the website,” she said.

“There were a few tears shed by me when we had to choose one because I am so soft and felt sorry for the others we couldn’t have.”

They settled on a 12-year-old black and white cat whose owner had recently died.

“He has brought joy and laughter into our lives and once again our house is a home,” Mrs McGinley said.

“We renamed him Shane because he has lost quite a few teeth and my husband’s favourite singer is Shane MacGowan from The Pogues.”

Mike Elliott, Cats Protection’s director of field operations, said the 10,000-cat landmark was “an achievement worth celebrating”.

“Lockdown forced us to rethink how best to support the welfare of cats in need,” he said. “We had to find new ways of working and fast.

“This milestone is testament to the teamwork, commitment and dedication of our volunteers, staff and fundraisers who pulled together for the sake of the cats.”