VOLUNTEERS from a cat welfare charity have said it has “lost sight of its main purpose” and is wasting “generous donations” on plastic and refurbishments.

Former staff at Cats Protection in Wickhamford near Evesham said the animals are now being treated as “commodities” rather than individuals with personalities and specific care requirements.

In an open letter, the volunteers said the charity is no focusing on the welfare of the cats and is instead running under a ‘corporate banner’ as a business.

The volunteers also blasted the introduction of non-recyclable, non-biodegradable plastic at the centre and is ignoring the “devastating” effect it would have on the environment.

The letter read: “The volunteers must put on gloves, foot covers, arm protectors and aprons before entering a cat’s pen to clean it.

“All the items must then be removed, thrown away and another set worn before entering the next pen.

“It is extremely costly and therefore wastes money, which could be used more effectively on the welfare of the cats.

The group of volunteers said they made a big drive to rehome as many cats as possible as they were concerned about their fate.

A spokesman for Cats Protection said: “As a responsible charity, having recognised a problem at the site, we had been working with the volunteer management at the centre for several months, to get the welfare standards, data protection requirements and other key policies in line with our national standards. This included addressing disease control, hygiene, vet standards and cat welfare issues.

“Our over-riding concern during this process has, of course, been the welfare of the cats in our care.

“When we were alerted over a weekend that the previous volunteer management team had left a resignation letter at the centre, leaving behind eight cats and free roaming chickens, we got an experienced team to the site as soon as possible.

“Their prime objective was to ensure the welfare of the cats, who were either rehomed directly from the centre or taken to other Cats Protection sites to be cared for until they are ready to be rehomed and the chickens who were also found a new home."

The charity said it adheres to “strict disease control measures” and the centre in Wickhamford is currently closed for a deep clean and upgrade.

Cats Protection said the prevention of disease is less impactful on the environment.