Cat owners living alone are being urged to make people aware they have a pet.

The plea by Haworth Cat Rescue follows an incident in which a cat was left abandoned in a flat for several days after its owner died.

Authorities were unaware of its presence until a neighbour alerted them.

The ten-year-old moggie is now being cared for by Haworth Cat Rescue, which has named him Gerrard.

Sam Davies, the charity’s shelter manager, said: “When we put Gerrard into his pen with a nice bowl of food he wolfed it down instantly, eating every last crumb. He was so hungry and desperate for attention having been left alone for so long.

“Most cats are extremely sociable and his owner probably spent many hours with him every day.”

Staff at the shelter know little about Gerrard and had to estimate his age from the few teeth he has left.

Sam added: “He is such a lovely character and really deserves a warm, loving home where he can live out his twilight years. Adopting an older cat can be extremely rewarding. They never ask for much, just a bit of love and attention and a nice cosy place to snuggle up.”

Gerrard is not the first cat to arrive at the shelter following the death of an owner.

Sara Atkinson, Haworth Cat Rescue founder, said: “Putting a simple note on a fridge door or a noticeboard that says ‘I own a cat’ can make all the difference if the worst should happen.

“I urge everyone who owns a pet to make arrangements for a friend or family member to look after it should they no longer be able to. Gerrard is now safe with us but his tale could have had a far less happy ending had he been left alone for much longer.”