A CAT rescue centre was called out to a heartbreaking discovery by a woman who had found a dead cat in her water butt.

Paws and Mittens, a self-funded rescue centre in Dovercourt, attended the address on Sunday afternoon following the discovery in the half-full butt.

Danielle Harding, who founded the charity in 2012, said: “This is the first water butt incident we have been called out to, but it’s certainly not the first I’ve heard of. Water Butts are incredibly dangerous if left open.

“The lady said she has always covered her water butt when not in use but when walking to the bottom of the garden to water her plants she saw the makeshift lid was on the floor.

“What she found when looking inside was truly heartbreaking.

“As we arrived to see to the cat the owner also arrived and, once retrieved, confirmed it to be her darling boy.

“It was just so heartbreaking for all, as I’m sure you can imagine.

“Cats will and can jump onto what they think is a solid surface, only to be met with a well of water that, despite any attempts, they cannot get out of.

“I can’t stop imagining how horrific that must have been for this darling boy and others who have fallen to the same fate.

“The death can be horrendous as there is simply no way out for the animal.”

Advice issued by the rescue centre urged people to ensure their water butts are securely covered so “preventable” incidents like Sunday afternoon’s could be avoided in the future.

Ms Harding helps rescue, rehabilitate and rehome about 80 cats per year at a cost of £12,000, covered entirely by fundraising, donations and her sponsorship scheme.

She explained the woman who found the cat was at no fault for its death, having done the correct action and attempted to cover the butt.

“Placing shallow bowls of water in your garden during the summer will not only help any passing resident and feral cats, but also wild hedgehogs who really need the help as temperatures rise,” she added.

“To the gorgeous boy we retrieved, I’m so sorry.

“Sleep well sweetheart, thoughts and love to your incredibly distressed mum.”