DESPITE relentless neutering campaigns, during the summer months in particular rescue centres are still inundated with kittens needing homes.

Just last week, an adorable litter consisting of four little boys was discovered by a member of the public in a garden in Hull.

Mother cat was nowhere to be seen so what had happened to her we will ever know.

Fortunately for these little guys, they were found in time and handed over to the RSPCA, but as one kitten had a poorly eye and they were taken to Battleflats Vets in Stamford Bridge.

Here the dedicated staff took turns with feeding and toileting duties, every couple of hours, including throughout the night, and last weekend, the little bunch arrived at my friend’s house to spend the night in the care of her daughter Ellen, one of the veterinary nurses at the practice.

Thankfully, the last I heard, all kittens were doing well and in the care of the RSPCA in York, where I believe they will remain until they are big enough to go to their forever homes.

I must admit this story did take me back, just a few years to October 1988 and the birth of a litter of Colourpoint Persians.

As I am sure you can imagine, Polly Persian had enjoyed the best of everything during her pregnancy and on October 4, just after tea she went into labour.

I remember my vet telling me not to worry as cats invariably gave birth easily, without any outside intervention and sure enough, three little girls all came into the world, textbook fashion.

All was going so well and then just when we thought it was all over, the contractions started again. This time things didn’t go so well.

An emergency c-section was eventually performed in the early hours of the morning where it was discovered that the fourth kitten was in an unfortunate position, with a front paw over his head.

There was no way that he could have made it into the birth canal and sadly he died before he was born. But we had three healthy girls and mum was looking good so I was allowed to take the little family back home that same night.

I was advised to keep the kittens away from their mum until she had woken up properly from the anaesthetic and I remember driving home along the deserted country road, cat carrier on the front passenger seat, housing a sleepy mummy cat, with the kittens in a separate box on the back seat snuggled up next to a hot water bottle.

About 10 minutes into the journey I heard Polly, still fast asleep in the carrier, begin to retch. Fearing that she might choke, I poked a finger inside of her mouth to try and remove whatever it was that she was trying to throw up.

Inadvertently, my finger touching her jaw seemed to instigate some sort of reflex action and her mouth clamped shut, although she was still sleeping, sinking her teeth into my finger. It hurt a lot.

A few hours later and Polly, as predicted, was wide awake but unfortunately she had decided that she wanted nothing at all to do with these kittens, they were far too annoying.

I remember speaking to the vet who told me that their best chance was for me to find a foster mum, as back in those days, hand reared kittens rarely survived.

Exhausted, tearful, with a very sore finger and with hungry kittens mewing loudly in the background, I rang the lady who owned the stud cat, a lady with many years breeding experience, to ask for her advice.

She advised me to put Polly in the kittening pen with her babies. To fasten the pen door, so that she couldn’t get away from them and then for me to come out of the room.

I remember standing on the other side of the closed door listening to the pitiful cries of the now starving kittens. It seemed to go on for such a long time… and then suddenly it all went quiet.

Easing the door open ever so slightly, I peeped in to see three hungry babies all feeding enthusiastically at the milk bar, with a proud mummy cat looking on, purring contentedly.