Charity Mews: End of an era – Four Feisty Feral Cats Become Last Working Animals From a UK Coal Mine

Hi everyone,

Today’s Charity Mews come from Cats Protection who have recently been involved in the re-homing of the UK’s last mining cats. (No they don’t mine for coal but they kill the rats in the areas of mines. :o)

Charity Mews: End of an era – Four Feisty Feral Cats Become Last Working Animals From a UK Coal Mine

The last working animals from a British coal mine – four feral cats – have been rehomed by Cats Protection following the closure of the Kellingley Colliery, the UK’s last deep coal pit.

Florence, Betty, Leia and Solo had been kept at the colliery in Beal, Yorkshire, where they carried out essential vermin control duties in exchange for bed and board.

Leia the cat Pic © Dillon Bryden
Leia the cat – Pic © Dillon Bryden

When the pit closed for the final time last month, concerned miners contacted Cats Protection’s York Adoption Centre to ask for help in finding them a new home.

And one month on from the pit closure (February 2016), all four are settling into their new homes – and jobs –  after being moved in pairs to nearby farms.

Their relocation marks the end of a long history of working animals in an industry which also called on the services of pit ponies and canary birds. Cats were originally drafted in to mines to keep pony stables clear of mice and rats.


Florence and Betty – named after miners’ wives Florence Anderson and Betty Cook, who took a prominent role in the 1984 strikes – were rehomed to Karen Scholey at her family’s farm near Green Hammerton, Yorkshire.

And Leia and Solo have now settled into their new home at Amanda Beal’s livery farm in Beverley, Yorkshire.

Cats Protection’s York Adoption Centre Manager James Hodgkison said the charity received a call in December from a former miner who was concerned about the future of the colliery cats.

He said: “Feral cats are those which never received sufficient human contact as kittens and as such are not tame. While they are not domesticated, they are highly valued by farmers, smallholders or industrial settings like collieries as they provide an excellent rodent control service.

“The four cats at the Kellingley Colliery were very much valued by workers for keeping rodents in check. They had been well cared for by the miners who had provided food, water and shelter, and they were in great condition.”


James added that after receiving the call, Cats Protection had used humane traps to capture the cats before finding them new homes in rural settings.

James at Kellingley

He said: “We can’t tell exactly how old they all are, but they had lived for a few years at the pit. We have no doubt they will continue to work their socks off in their new homes, and we’re just pleased we were able to help.”

Karen Scholey, new owner of Florence and Betty, said: “We’ve had feral cats on our farm for years as they are the best form of pest control you can get and we were on the lookout for a couple more when we heard about the colliery cats.

“It is a true privilege for us to give them a home as they represent so much about the important mining history in the area. It was a very sad day for Yorkshire when the pit closed, and I’m just happy we’ve been able to at least help these two cats.


“It was only fitting they were given names to represent their background, so we decided to name them after two of the strongest women involved in the miners strikes in the 1980s.”

Amanda Beal, who named the two cats she adopted Leia and Solo, said both are settling in well.

She said: “Solo is most definitely very feral and we don’t see much of her – she’s busy keeping the mice under control. But Leia very quickly decided that she likes some creature comforts and moved into the house. She is very nervous but enjoys human company so she must have been well looked after during her time at the pit.”

Leia the cat Pic © Dillon Bryden
Leia the cat Pic © Dillon Bryden



About Cats Protection:
Cats Protection is the UK’s largest cat charity, helping over 205,000 cats every year through a network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 32 centres. To find out more about the charity’s work, please visit 

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6 thoughts on “Charity Mews: End of an era – Four Feisty Feral Cats Become Last Working Animals From a UK Coal Mine

  1. meowmeowmans says:

    What a great post, Marc. There’s a place for every cat — and it sounds like Betty, Florence, Leia and Solo have found theirs! 🙂

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