The "sad tale" of Sergei the kitten who was sold for £20 at a train station has had a happy ending.

The tiny six-week-old was bought as a surprise present - but he turned out to be an unwelcome gift for his new owner, who had lost her beloved cat a few days before and wasn’t ready for a new pet.

For two days Sergei cowered under a sofa before being brought to Battersea animal rescue on June 8 by his owner, who was worried because he wasn’t eating or drinking.

Because the buyer did not see the kitten in the home with his mother and littermates, Battersea staff will never know what condition he was kept in during the first few weeks of his life.

Now the rescue home is renewing its warning against buying pets online, so that what happened to Sergei doesn't happen to any others.

“Sergei’s case shows the problem with buying pets impulsively online," head of catteries at Battersea, Rob Young said.

"While we would always advocate that rescue is best, if you do decide to buy a kitten or puppy elsewhere, do your research.

"Make sure you meet the animal in the home with its mother and that you buy from a reputable source.

“Sergei’s sad tale also shows why it’s never a good idea to buy a dog or a cat for someone as a surprise present. Owning an animal is big responsibility, and they’ll be with you for years, so getting a new pet is something that should be carefully thought through and discussed with everyone involved.”

Sergei’s story luckily had a happy ending and earlier this month he found a home with a family from Balham and is enjoying life as a much-loved pet.