Most of us know a ‘cat person’, but one Accrington animal-lover has gone the next step - by having his cats’ names tattooed on his arms.
Andy Richards, 54, of Canal Street, Church, loves his feline friends so much that he has the name of every cat he has ever owned tattooed on his left forearm.
The lifelong animal-lover’s tattoos also include 18 paw prints representing his each of his beloved pets, a large paw print on his wrist, and two cat faces on his right arm.
The tattoo currently displays the names of 15 cats, and Andy plans to bring it up to date with three more.
Andy, who currently looks after 13 adopted cats, said: “I thought the tattoo was a good idea at the time, but that was when I only had five cats.
"Now I’m a bit worried I’m running out of arm space! I think I’ve got space for about five or six more names, but then I suppose I’ll have to start on the other arm!”
Andy got his first tattoo, a portrait of favourite cat Poe, in 2008.
He said: “I’d never thought about having tattoos before. But when Poe was hit by a car, I wanted to pay tribute to him.
“I really loved Poe. He was like a little puppy - he used to scamper around and was so full of life.”
He added: “When Poe died, I decided to dedicate my life to cats’ welfare.
“I’d spent 21 years working for the civil service and I hated every minute of it. I just wanted to find my purpose in life.”
Andy has now worked in animal welfare for over 10 years, and set up small cat rescue charity East Lancashire Cats after moving to Accrington from Preston in 2012.
He said: “When I moved, I was shocked at the stray cat problem. I just felt I really had to do something.”
He began by taking strays into his home on a one-to-one basis, before taking on six foster carers and opening a charity shop to fund their work.
Unfortunately, rehoming every cat is not easy. In the most difficult cases, Andy cannot resist offering them a home himself.
He added: “Most people don’t want the wilder cats at the end of their lives.
“But I don’t go gooey eyed over kittens. I like the ones who look like they’ve lived a life.”
Although his work can be difficult, Andy says he would not have it any other way.
He said: “The only time I’m not working with cats is when I’m asleep, and even then I’ll be dreaming about them!”