London’s cats were purring with anticipation as the Duchess of Cornwall officially opened a new £5m state-of-the-art cattery at Battersea Dog and Cats Home yesterday.

HRH - a self-confessed animal lover - made her first visit to the animal home on October 27 to officially open the new wing for London’s unwanted and stray cats.

She arrived to a dog guard of honour, where 20 of the home’s current canine residents lined up to greet her entrance into the building, along with members of staff, trustees and guests.

In her speech to mark the opening, HRH said: “For 150 years, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has done such a vital job in helping so many unwanted dogs and cats get a second chance in life.

“It has deservedly earned a very special place in the nation’s heart and I'm sure that I, like many others, will find it very hard not to leave without a four legged friend under my arm.”

Prior to her speech, HRH was given a guided tour of the home, visiting the famous dog kennels, the veterinary clinic extension and the new cattery, where she was so impressed, she even said: “I would be very happy to be a cat here.”

Work on the new wing, which was only completed last month, began in July 2009 and has 87 new climate controlled pens and socialising rooms with toys and sofas for the cats to play in.

Claire Horton, Chief Executive of the home, said of the royal visit: “We were thrilled to welcome HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to Battersea and open our new cattery and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of her visit.”

Chairman of Trustees, Heather Love, said: “We are so honoured that she decided to come, and we are so glad it didn’t rain.”

Other guests that attended the ceremony included Mayor of Wandsworth, Councillor Piers McCausland and MP for Battersea, Jane Ellison.