Two cats are confirmed dead and at least 18 unaccounted for after a blaze ripped through a cattery, firefighters said today.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue service battled the blaze at the cattery in Stafford Road, Cannock, at 5.30am.
A spokesman confirmed the brigade was not treating the fire as suspicious and said several of the missing cats might have escaped unharmed.
He could not confirm how many animals were being housed at the time but the BBC reported that up to 15 might have died.
Station manager Dermot Hogan said: "Firefighters arrived and found the building well alight. The cattery owners stated that there had been over 20 cats in the cattery, however some are believed to have escaped from the building after the fire broke out.
"The building has been destroyed as it was predominately a wooden structure and we've been unable to confirm so far how many cats have died in the fire.
"A fire investigation was carried out to establish how the fire started and we believe an electrical fault within one of the pens is to blame."
The fire brigade sent six crews to the incident, including a water carrier and a high volume pumping unit.
A fire service spokesman said: "The cattery owners will be contacting the animals' owners in due course."
Crews left the scene at 10.43am today.
The owner of the Pinetrees cattery spoke of her devastation.
A weeping Lynn Durnell said her own four cats were among the casualties.
Mrs Durnell said: "We've contacted those involved. It's very hard. Four of the cats that died belonged to us. I'm devastated."
Pinetrees offers a "fully licensed boarding" facility all year round with "heated chalets" and "diet catering" for its feline visitors.
Rates start at £6 per day for a single cat, according to its website.
It says: "The proprietor Mrs Durnall has been fully trained at the Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB) training centre and Pinetrees Cattery has been constructed and is continually managed to meet the highest standards of hygiene and cat health care."
The site's guestbook had postings of sympathy.
Claire Wiltshire wrote: "Devastating news about the fire. We have been using Pinetrees for a number of years now, and we was always more than happy with the treatment and care our pets were given. Our thoughts are with all that have been affected."