Plans to quadruple a cat shelter's capacity follow its toughest ever year and come amidst fears homeless colonies could be culled.

The Scratching Post Cat Rescue Shelter in Waltham Abbey has announced ambitious plans to buy a seven acre plot of land near the town.

With the current facilities at maximum capacity of 70 cats and a further 200 on the waiting list, the shelter's managers are looking to construct a new cattery four times its size.

To make these ambitions a reality a fundraiser aiming to make £150,000 has been launched.

The plans were unveiled at the end of another gruelling year for the Scratching Post and its staff.

Susan Delaney, who runs the charity, said: "The situation is absolutely dreadful at the moment.

"It is the worst year we have ever had.

"We have had cats dumped in the forest and in roads, on the A10. There have been kittens dumped in the middle of Epping Forest.

"Next year will be worse. Every year people don't neuter their cats it gets worse."

Although there are no accurate figures when it comes to the number of strays on Britain's streets, Ms Delaney is certain it is growing and fears other shelters may take drastic action if the population increase is not controlled.

She added: "We have real concerns that very soon larger organisations may start culling homeless cat colonies to stop the breeding.

"Nobody wants to see this happen."

The Scratching Post's owners have given themselves two months to raise the money and have asked its supporters to dig deep.

Ms Delaney said: "We recently fundraised for new units and a vet room. Both of these would be transferred to the new site.

"We have a dream and a very slim possibility of making it come true."

The shelter found itself in trouble at the end of May when a large storm shorted its electrics and flooded the cats' cages.

To donate click here.