Knitters are being asked to help unwanted cats and kittens this autumn by making homemade blankets and mouse toys for Cats Protection.

The UK’s largest cat charity will be launching its annual Knitting Bee appeal at the Knitting & Stitching Show at London’s Alexandra Palace from October 11-14.

Craft lovers can get involved by making cosy blankets and fun mouse toys which will be used by cats in the charity’s care this autumn and winter.

Cats Protection’s Events Manager Emma Osborne explained: “Our staff and volunteers work tirelessly to keep cats in our care amused and happy, but we’re always in need of toys and blankets to make their time with us as comfortable as possible.

“Many of the cats that come into our care are strays and have never known the comfort of their own snuggly blanket, so all donations are much appreciated. Not only is knitting blankets or mouse toys a great way to combine a love of crafts and cats, it’s also a handy way to use up scraps of wool.

“Last year, we were thrilled by the number of knitters who took part in our appeal and gave up a few evenings of their time to come up with something special for unwanted cats. We hope this year will be just as successful, and we can’t wait to see what wonderful creations knitters will come up with.”

Knitters can use their own designs to make blankets and mice or follow a pattern for the popular Captain Cat-Battler knitted mouse – originally designed by Lauren O’Farrell (www.whodunnknit.com) – which will be available to pick up at the show, or by calling the charity’s National Information Line on 03000 12 12 12.

As well as finding out more about the knitting bee, visitors to the charity’s stand at the Knitting & Stitching Show will be able to stock up on festive gifts for cat-loving family and friends, with a range of feline-related merchandise available to buy.

Staff will also be on hand to help visitors find out about cats available for adoption in their area, or how to become a volunteer for the charity.

Cats Protection advises that when knitting a toy or blanket, it’s best to avoid the use of stretchy yarns or small plastic items – such as those that can be used for mouse eyes – to reduce the risk of injury to cats and kittens. Loose weave blanket patterns involving the use of large needles are best avoided too. The charity also suggests that cat owners regularly inspect cat toys for signs of wear or damage, not to leave cats unattended with knitted toys, and not to use knitted toys or blankets with cats that have wool-chewing habits.