Lonely cats are having virtual dates with potential owners in the hope of finding love online.

Cats Protection’s Hands-Free Homing scheme lets you adopt a cat while shelters ­remain shut during the pandemic – and it has helped turn life around for one bored 11-year-old boy.

Cooper and his mum Claire Blekkenhorst fell for black cat Wilfey after seeing his photos and videos.

Claire said: “We are so in love with Wilfey. He has bonded so specially with my son and follows him ­everywhere. They’ve become very firm friends and sleep together every night.

Wilfey was picked from Cats Protection’s Mitcham Homing Centre in London. And Claire and Cooper, from Sutton in Surrey, say he has made staying at home much more fun.

Wilfey and new owner Cooper

“We are so very grateful to Cats Protection for matching us with Wilfey.

“We lost our first cat in January and I couldn’t imagine another cat coming into our lives and being adored so much but it turns out it is possible.”

If a match is made, the charity does the necessary checks online and once the adoption fee is paid, the cat will be delivered in a Cats Protection van.

All cats come neutered, microchipped and with a clean bill of health.

Follow-up care calls over the following couple of weeks ensure that the cat and their new owners are happy.

The charity’s boss Mark Beazley said: “This is a fantastic scheme, which will not only help to us to find loving homes for cats but can also provide much-needed companionship for ­people at this difficult time.

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“Nine out of ten owners say their cat has a positive effect on their mental wellbeing, which is particularly ­important in these uncertain times.

“Two thirds also said their cat helps them calm down when working from home, which it looks like many of us will be doing for some time to come.”

■ You can find a match at cats.org.uk/hands-free-homing