A cat and her three kittens have been found living in an old bird’s nest high up in a tree, watched over by a doting tom cat.
Volunteers from the Cats Protection charity say that the living arrangements chosen by the feline family were very unusual and have now found a new home for them.
And the cats have now all been named after birds in honour of their former home, with the mother named Oriole, the male named Willet and the kittens Bran, Jay and Lori.
The rescuers had been alerted to welfare issues regarding a colony of cats living on an industrial site in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.
Team member Ruth Goller, from the charity’s Chiltern branch, had been aware of a newborn kitten which had been found dead and managed to trace the mother to the tree nest after a week of searching gardens, leafleting and even setting up camera traps.
She said: “Then one morning the mum showed up with a male who seemed bonded with her. I watched her eat and it was obvious that she recently had kittens and was still feeding, but we had no idea where she had stowed them.”
After befriending the pair, Ms Goller then followed them to a tree at the back of the site.
She said: “I wanted to get a closer look so clambered on some containers and reached up into the tall tree. That’s when I saw a nest with mum feeding three kittens right in front of me. I was so glad to have found them. The male was watching from nearby.”
The animal welfare team then managed to catch the family of cats to give them medical attention and bring them into the care of fosterer Sue Buck.
She said: “They’re a lovely little family. Willet behaves like a doting dad to the kittens, even grooming them. Oriole and Willet are clearly bonded and we would love to think we could rehome the mum and male cat together.”
Kathryn Graves, the secretary of Cats Protection’s Chiltern Branch, said: “It is very unusual for a tom cat to stick around after kittens have been born. In fact, I’ve never seen it before.”