Behind a very modest looking shopfront in Junction Rd is a major player in animal protection. "We call it the Tardis" explains Rosie Wheeler "because it's so much bigger than it looks from the outside". She's right - Cats Protection occupies a four storey building with a garden extention, where most of the cats live whilst waiting to find a new home.
We were shown around by two Deputy Centre Managers, Malcolm Langton and Rosie, but the star of the show was Humphrey, who was being allowed to help? in the office whilst recuperating from surgery. He is a complete charmer but already scheduled to go to his new home.
Amazingly, the Junction Rd centre deals with eight hundred cats a year. Some arrive because owners can no longer care for them, sadly some are abandoned, but the good news is that the adoption rate is very fast - a matter of a few weeks for most of the animals. It's important to know that Cats Protection never has an animal put down unless the cat is so ill that it is necessary for welfare reasons.
Cats of all sorts find homes: the ones that you might imagine would be hard to place - cats who are battle-scarred or have medical problems - are actually much sought after. Quirky cats are wanted for their character; cats that can't go outside are very attractive to flat-dwelling Londoners with no garden.
The centre's light-filled basement has separate areas - an admissions area where new arrivals are carefully quarantined to assess medical and behavioural needs, then a series of larger pens for animals waiting for re-homing. Each cat has a good-sized personal space, with room to jump around or sleep or hide, if they want to. But however comfortable the surroundings, what they really want is a new family. Whilst we were being shown round we met Tom, a local resident, who was completing the formalities to adopt Tibs. As you can see from the photo, he looked highly delighted (even if Tibs chose not to look out of her cat carrier to be photographed).
Cats Protection is a very cheerful and hopeful place, but don't take our word for it: new adopters (and even temporary foster carers) are always wanted and there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer. Or, if you want to help in other ways, there is always a need for blankets and towels (to provide bedding), food or, of course, cash donations.