A CAT charity has set up a helpline for pet owners grieving the loss of their pet.

Cats Protection has launched the Paws to Listen support service ahead of Grief Awareness Day on August 30 in the hope that people facing the loss of a cat do not have to feel alone.

A spokesman added: "A pet cat can be the centre of home life, being a constant presence in their owner’s lives for many years.

"It’s therefore understandable that the death of a cat can come as a shock, and many owners can find it difficult to come to terms with their loss.

"Grieving for a cat may become more difficult as the death of a pet is not always seen as a significant loss, leading some people to hide their feelings.

"This means many people avoid talking about how grief has affected them, which can cause them to feel very alone."

The free and confidential service is run by trained volunteers who offer emotional support in coping with the loss of a cat.

The service also includes a range of resources and information on its website, including understanding euthanasia and how to help children deal with the death of a cat.

The move follows a Glasgow pet owner hitting the headlines nationally earlier this week after she was sacked on the same day her pet dog died.

Emma McNulty said she was too upset to work after her terrier Millie died but after being unable to find a replacement, she said her part-time job in a sandwich shop was terminated.

A petition has now been set up asking for employers to recognise pet bereavement in the same way as a human family member.

The Cat Protection Paws to Listen service is available between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday, except bank holidays.

Anyone wishing to use the service can call 0800 024 9494 and a call back service is available if lines are busy.

Alternatively, an email service is available by emailing pawstolisten@cats.org.uk

For more information, visit cats.org.uk/grief