Three homeless kittens held onto their nine lives when they were spotted sheltering in the hollow of a tree – just seconds before workmen cut it down.
The three kittens and their mother were living rough in the hollow of a cracked willow tree at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Lower Moor Farm near Malmesbury, Wilts.
A team of tree cutters with chainsaws were trimming the trees as part of a volunteer scheme, chopping down unhealthy willows.
They suddenly noticed a flock of sparrow hawks circling over the tree they were about to cut and decided to take a closer look.
The men, from Southern Electric Power Distribution’s depot in Melksham, were stunned to discover the terrified kittens and their mother cowering in their hollow.
John Wagner, project manager of the volunteer scheme, said it was lucky the team had spotted the birds as they were about to cut the tree down.
He said: “It could have been a scene from a Disney movie. Like all good Disney movies, this one had a happy ending.
“We had just finished trimming a large willow tree and were clearing up the debris. When the chainsaw stopped we could hear something crying under the limb.
“We couldn’t believe it – three tiny kittens all covered in sawdust huddled together inches from where we last cut.
“Thankfully they were unharmed.”
Ellie Jones, the wildlife trust’s project field officer for Bradon Forest, said the mother and her kittens had been caught to protect them and other animals of the site.
The cats are now settling in to a foster home with Cat Rescue in Chippenham, Wilts.