CAT lovers in need of an efficient pest control service are being encouraged to offer a job – and a home – to a feral feline employee.

Volunteers at Cats Protection's Bournemouth-based branch have issued an appeal in the hope of finding people willing to take in cats that are not suited to a conventional home.

The feral cats, many of which have been rescued from alleyways near dangerous roads, would ideally need to be re-homed in areas away from roads.

All they would require is some form of shelter, such as a barn or stable, and food once or twice a day.

And, in return, they would help keep the rodent population at bay, Cats Protection says. Andi Holden-Bailey, Bournemouth branch co-ordinator, said colonies of feral cats often find themselves homeless, usually as a result of inner city and rural development.

But their useful predatory skills, coupled with Cats Protection’s rehoming services, can secure them a better future, she said.

"Most feral cats prefer the freedom of a working life. We have had some very positive feedback in terms of reduced rodent problems from the farms, stables and small holdings that have adopted a feral or two from us," she said.

"A pair of feral cats can provide a highly efficient and environmentally-friendly alternative to chemical pest control. Garden centres, golf clubs, smallholdings, farms, stables, shops; in fact, anywhere where there is room to roam and rodents to catch, will provide working cats with a suitable environment in which to live and work."

All feral cats are neutered and health checked before going to their new homes.

Prospective feral cat 'fosterers' are reminded their new feline resident would likely keep its distance at first but, in time, may become more tame and allow strokes.

"Owners must be prepared to provide their feline employees with food, water, shelter and veterinary care when needed, none of which will affect their desire to catch prey," Andi said.

Cats Protection helps around 20,000 feral cats per year through its trap, neuter and return or relocation (TNR) work.

While feral kittens aged up to eight weeks can be successfully ‘socialised’ and rehomed in a normal home environment, this is not usually possible with adult feral cats. Once they have been neutered, volunteers return them to their colony, where a sustainable one exists, or find them a new home in a suitable environment where they can thrive and work hard doing what they like best.

If you would like to provide a home for a feral cat contact Bournemouth Cats Protection on 01202 946303.