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47 cats are rescued from woman’s Clerkenwell flat

Animal welfare officer ‘shocked’ when he was first called out

12 April, 2019 — By Emily Finch

Animal welfare officer James Elford with one of the rescued cats

ERNIE, Boss, Sylvester… these are just a few of the 47 names given to the cats rescued from one Clerkenwell flat this week. With the felines hiding in every corner, it took three animal welfare officers from the Celia Hammond Animal Trust three days to rescue the cats, who are now looking for new homes.

James Elford, 38, who started animal welfare work when he was just 14 years old, said he was “shocked” when he was first called out to help rescue the cats.

“When we were called out we were told there was going to be 60 cats and I took a double breath after the call. I was worried that there was going to be sick and dying kittens.

“Luckily, there were fewer cats but it was still shocking to see so many in a small space.”

The flat from which the cats were removed

He said that the elderly cat owner had “kept the cats well fed” but added: “What if some of the cats had fallen ill? I don’t think she could have coped.”

The cats are currently at the adoption centre in Lewisham but the welfare officers are called out to jobs throughout the capital.

The centre has a strict “no-kill” policy and will only put down an animal when it is medically necessary and nothing can be done for it.

“The elderly lady we took the cats from had previously had 73 cats taken from her flat by another organisation two years ago. They had put to sleep 64 of the cats because they thought they couldn’t be re-homed. By doing that, it meant she didn’t want to work with that organisation any more,” said Mr Elford.

A few of the cats had been left behind from the previous rescue and were allowed to breed and their numbers rapidly increased again.

“Our vets are under a lot of pressure already. We are in desperate need of people to adopt these cats in pairs. It costs a lot for us to vaccinate, neuter and microchip these cats and we are always in need of donations,” said Mr Elford.

There are currently around a dozen kittens kept in isolation at the centre and they will be
put up for adoption shortly.

It is understood that the elderly cat owner has been moved into sheltered accommodation after the Town Hall temporarily evicted her from her council-owned property.

“I really hope we don’t have a repeat of this situation,” said Mr Elford.

Christina Mollaghan, clinic manager, stressed it was important for all cat owners to neuter their pets.

“Cats can have two litters a year and it’s so important to stop this. If you can adopt a cat, it’s very important too because there are so many cats here waiting for a new home,” she said.

• Those interested in donating or adopting can contact the Celia Hammond Animal Trust by visiting or calling 020 8694 6545.

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