Kitten and Mother Rescued from Recycling Container in Extraordinary Operation

‘Biff’, who weighed 200 grams, was pulled free after a two-day operation in Liverpool

An operation to save a kitten and his mum, who survived being crushed in a recycling container full of cardboard, has been described as one of the most ‘extraordinary’ rescues an RSPCA officer has taken part in.

Staff from wholesaler Makro on the Britonwood Trading Estate in Hornhouse Lane, Liverpool, called in the animal welfare charity after hearing meowing noises coming from inside the container.

It’s thought the mum had gone inside to give birth to her baby and then become trapped as it got continually filled with more and more cardboard.

When RSPCA inspector Vicki Brooks arrived on the scene on 30 May, the face of the adult cat was peeking out of a tiny hole at one end of the container and the faint meowing of a kitten – who is now being hand-reared at the RSPCA’s Wirral and Chester branch care and named Biff – could be heard behind her.

It’s thought mother and son may have been stuck inside the unit in sweltering heat without food or water for several days.

A compactor which dropped the cardboard in and flattened it with a metal plate was separated from the back of the container, and the inspector, along with staff from Makro, then spent five hours painstakingly removing pieces of cardboard by hand in an attempt to reach the cats.

Vicki said: “It was the most extraordinary rescue I have taken part in, in 21 years with the RSPCA. I don’t know how the cats managed to survive. There was tons of cardboard packed tightly up to the ceiling of the container and no room for them to move.

“It was incredibly hot and there would have been limited air. Mum had obviously not eaten for at least a couple of days and all the while she was trying to feed and care for her newborn kitten. They could so easily have been crushed by falling cardboardor succumbed to the heat.”

The rescue team were on site pulling cardboard from the container until 8pm, but there was so much material inside that work had to resume again the following morning.

When RSPCA inspector Joanne Macdonald and trainee animal rescue officer Scarlett Sanderson arrived, there was sadly no sign of the adult cat, who would have had sufficient space by then to get out of the container if she’d wanted.

Again, with help from the staff at Makro, a further two hours was spent removing cardboard and a ‘channel’ created from the back of the container to the front where Biff was located and finally brought to safety.

Attempts are now being made to trap his mum and get her health checked and neutered.

Joanne said: “Only one kitten was heard or seen inside the container so we’re fairly sure there weren’t anymore. Mum had obviously snuck in when it wasn’t full in the hope of giving birth somewhere she thought was safe, warm and dry. But because the container is continuously being filled, her escape route became blocked.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Thomas Cheeseman and his colleagues at Makro for the incredible support they gave us from the start of the operation until the finish – their care and compassion was heartwarming – as well the container company, DS Smith, who sent a driver out of hours to move the compactor.

“It was a complex operation as we had to remove all the cardboard by hand as using any sort of machinery would have risked injuring the cats, plus little Biff was right at the other end of the container.

“We’re obviously concerned about his mum and we’ll be working with another charity to try and trap her. And of course this very unusual rescue highlights just how beneficial neutering is for the welfare of cats.”

Biff, who weighed just 200 grams, is putting on weight and doing well at the RSPCA’s Wirral and Chester branch rehoming centre in Cross Lane, Wallasey, where he has made two new feline friends – orphan kittens called Chip and Kipper who were brought to the centre after being found at separate locations.

The trio, who are all three to four weeks old, have been named after characters from the popular Oxford Reading Tree books, and are being hand-reared by Kay.

“Biff has now doubled in weight and is eating by himself,” said Kay. “He’s a very loving and affectionate little character and he’s also becoming quite inquisitive and mischievous. I’ve certainly got my hands full with the three of them, but the most important thing is they’re all making good progress which is always a relief when very young kittens like this come into rescue by themselves.”

If you would like to donate to Biff, Chip and Kipper’s ongoing care you can do so by visiting

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