Twenty magnificent moggies have been announced as finalists in Cats Protection’s prestigious Rescue Cat Awards ahead of an award ceremony in August.
Four cats have been shortlisted in each category – Hero Cat, Ultimate Survivor, Most Incredible Story, Best Friends and the Purina Lifetime Achievement Award.
Finalists include heroic puss Tom, who alerted his owner to a burglar in the house; brave Bomber, who helped prevent a house fire; Marmite, the “moggy midwife” who helped his pregnant owner when she went into labour and Rambo, who at 27 may be Britain’s oldest cat.
The Rescue Cat Awards, organised by Cats Protection and sponsored by Purina PetCare, are designed to celebrate the real-life stories of heroism, bravery and survival in the cat world.
Winners will be chosen for each category with one lucky puss winning the overall title of Rescue Cat of the Year 2010.
Owners face a nail-biting wait until Wednesday 4 August when the awards ceremony will be held at the New London Theatre in the West End – a fitting venue as it was the home to musical Cats for its record-breaking 21-year run.
Celebrity judges who will announce the winners on the day are TV comedian and presenter Iain Lee, actress Lesley Joseph, children’s TV favourite Sarah-Jane Honeywell and TV vet Emma Milne.
According to Kate Bunting, the Awards organiser at Cats Protection, narrowing down the entries to a shortlist of 20 was a difficult task.
She said: “We were really impressed with the quality of the entries this year, all of which summed up what is so special about rescue cats. Some of the tales we heard were incredibly moving, whilst others were amazing and inspiring – and that just illustrates the many qualities of the UK moggy.
“It was a tough job to narrow the entries down, but all these fantastic cats certainly deserved their place in the final for showing just how remarkable rescue cats are.”
TV presenter and comedian Iain Lee, who will be judging the Best Friends category, said: “My cat Velvet is a great feline friend – as well as being great fun to have around, she has an uncanny knack of turning up for cuddles and strokes whenever I am feeling low. I’m looking forward to hearing other uplifting stories of friendship between cats and their owners.”
Finalists in Cats Protection’s Rescue Cat Awards 2010
Best Friends Category
Lovely Oscar has transformed the lives of the elderly residents at the care home where he was adopted from Cats Protection. Initially a stray, he was taken in by management who were desperate to improve the atmosphere for people at the home. Oscar settled in immediately, preferring to spend time indoors with residents and has made a huge impact to their quality of life. Care home manager Joyce Brennan said: “For many people, going into a care home means giving up their pets. We all love Oscar and he brings a lot of joy to the home.”
When Hannah Conneely adopted three-legged Twinkle, she had no idea what an impact the pint-sized puss would have on her life. Having lost a leg in a road accident, tiny Twinkle helped Hannah cope with her marriage break-up and the prospect of raising her two children alone. But it was when Hannah discovered she had a benign tumour in her left breast that Twinkle really became a shining star, staying by her owner’s side during her gruelling treatment. As Hannah says: “Twinkle is the most lovable pet and my number one carer. Without her my outlook wouldn’t be quite as rosy.”
Loyal Tillie has proved to be a lifeline to owner Sara Griffiths since she adopted her from Cats Protection. Sara had to undergo two major operations for a benign inoperable brain tumour and as a result suffers severe headaches. But however tough things get, Tillie is at Sara’s side lending a comforting paw. Sara says: “I would be totally lost without my fluffy friend who is always there when I need her.”
If you were ill, what would help you make a recovery? For Dilys Fordham, 96, the answer is Sooty – her ever-loving black and white cat. Dilys has had several stays in hospital since adopting Sooty four years ago, and her loving cat is a constant support. When her family visits her in hospital Sooty comes along too and sits as near as possible to her when he senses she is in pain. Dilys says: “He is such a good friend to me, I don’t think I could go on without him.”
Most Incredible Story Category
When Lindsey Davies suddenly went into labour alone, she was terrified – until her pet moggy Marmite stepped in as emergency midwife. Loving Marmite didn’t leave Lindsey’s side for two hours as she waited for her partner to arrive home and helped keep the mum-to-be calm and relaxed. It wasn’t the first time Marmite had proved to be a vital support – he was a constant support to Lindsey who had suffered painful conditions of pre-eclampsia and anaemia during a difficult pregnancy. He was thrilled when baby Ruby arrived safe and well, and is just as protective of the new arrival.
It’s a good job cats have nine lives because lucky Leo, now aged 10, has been through his fair share. Abandoned at a week old, he was hand reared at a rescue centre. Since then he has survived a car accident, a fall from a tree, a snake bite and a fall into a trench of wet concrete. But his biggest battle came when he was diagnosed with diabetes. Despite daily insulin injections, Leo tolerates his treatment well and is a much loved family pet. Owner Theresa Palmer says: “Leo stops half way through his food, stands patiently while I inject him and then finishes his food!”
Abandoned puss Albert sparked a bomb alert when passengers notified staff about an unattended bag dumped at London Underground’s Victoria Line. Closer inspection of the holdall found it to contain nothing more sinister than a very terrified black-and-white puss. Missing part of one of his legs, the sorry-looking moggy was rushed to a rescue centre where he was named Albert because of the Victoria connection. And when new owner Sian O’Shea heard about the little cat’s plight, Albert was finally able to reach his purr-fect destination – a loving new home.
Hapless Flip was an adventurous kitten but his love of car engines was his most worrying habit. When he went missing for six weeks, his owners feared the worst until they got a call to say he’d been found at a tyre warehouse. It turned out that Flip, attracted by the warmth of the engine, had snuck under the bonnet of a large van unbeknown to its driver. He had then travelled 20 miles before becoming trapped in the warehouse, surviving by licking rainwater from the vehicles. Fortunately Flip was microchipped and so was quickly reunited with his loving and very relieved owners.
Hero Cat Category
It was an ordinary evening as Mary London settled down to watch TV. Suddenly, she noticed Tom acting strangely – ears flat, back arched, fur raised and eyes like saucers. When he started to pat her leg and run back and forth to the door, Mary decided to investigate. It wasn’t long before Mary found the source of Tom’s anxiety – an intruder was hiding in the study. Startled and afraid, she dialled 999 and the man fled. Mary said: “The police were full of praise for Tom’s actions and agreed he is a wonderful little cat because he could have saved my life.e.
Brave Bomber saved the day when he prevented a fire at owner Marilyn Haisman’s home. Adopted as an indoor cat because he has FIV, Bomber enjoys all the creature comforts of home. So one winter’s day, Marilyn popped some heat pads in the microwave to warm his bed. Having left the kitchen, she had no idea the pads had ignited and were seconds away from causing a fire. Fortunately the alarm was raised when she noticed Bomber behaving strangely and “howling like a banshee”. Marilyn said: “I will never forget the day I believe Bomber’s actions prevented a fire and he became my hero”.
Feisty puss Leoni lived up to her reputation as a neighbourhood busybody when she foiled a burglary at a neighbouring property. Well known for her curtain twitching habits, Leoni couldn’t resist going to investigate when she noticed something unusual going on at a neighbour’s house at 2am one morning. Unbeknown to the sleeping homeowners, burglars had entered the house and were loading a vehicle with valuables. Fortunately, Leoni was on the case. Slinking in through the forced-open front door, she marched upstairs meowing at the top of her voice – alerting the householder to the intruders, who fled when disturbed.
When Lyn Stewart started slipping in and out of consciousness as she recovered from a serious car accident in which she suffered a broken neck, it was her cat Bobby who came to her aid. Regularly finding herself completely unable to move or even blink, Bobby appears close to her face and pats her mouth, bringing her out of the paralysis. “Bobby is my lifeline and I love him very, very much,” says Lyn. “I cannot imagine life without him – he’s become an incredible companion, carer and friend.”
Ultimate Survivor Category
Nelson was close to death when he collapsed in a garden during a freezing winter – emaciated, blind in one eye, with just three teeth and in a terrible condition. Debra Tate took him in and, after receiving veterinary care and TLC for the first time in his tough life, Nelson pulled through. Vets estimated he was in his mid-teens and said he was a truly remarkable cat to have survived his nomadic existence. Owner Debra said: “He has no manners, runs off with your tea when your back is turned and will never be a cover model, but he’s our treasure.”
Poor Purrdy had a terrible start to life when she failed to meet the standards of an unscrupulous cat breeder. Thrown in a caravan along with 50 other “rejects” she was fed cheap dog food and deprived of human love and a normal life. Eventually the caravan was discovered by animal welfare workers who said it was one of the worst cases of cruelty they had ever seen. Sadly, many of the other cats were so ill they had to be put to sleep. But with plenty of TLC Purrdy pulled through and whilst still very shy, she is finally enjoying the happy life she deserves.
Willow was on death’s door when he arrived at a vet surgery in an appalling condition; painfully thin, dehydrated and suffering bouts of vomiting. Vets discovered a loop of tough cotton embedded in the flesh under his tongue and immediately operated. Five hours later and, after six incisions in his stomach and intestines, vets had removed many feet of tangled thread. After making a remarkable recovery, Willow won the heart of vet nurse Deborah Horley, who adopted him.
She explained: “Willow has proved to be a real fighter to pull through.”
If surviving well into old age is a sign of good living, Rambo must be enjoying a truly wonderful life! Originally adopted by owner Irene Gray back in 1987 when he was four, Rambo is now the ripe old age of 27 – a staggering 124 in cat years. Despite his eyesight and hearing deteriorating, Rambo is enjoying his twilight years and may be Britain’s oldest cat. Irene says: “He’s still very active and loves life, especially the garden and his creature comforts. He loves nothing more than sitting outside in the shade of the apple tree.”
Purina Lifetime Achievement Award Category
Moggy Scarf is living proof of the remarkable bond between man and cat. As a young boy, Andy Taylor faced problems with his family, leading him to go and live with his grandmother, who adopted Scarf to help him cope. Her plan worked and Scarf and Andy formed a unique bond which helped him deal with his tough upbringing and later his grandmother’s death. Thirteen years on, Andy has grown up, settled down and married yet still Scarf is by his side – a lifelong friend who has been there through thick and thin.
Rescue cat Tess has proved to be a real lifeline to her owner Samantha Marshall since adopting her 10 years ago. Samantha suffers from a personality disorder which makes it difficult for her to form relationships and communicate with other people. But despite some of the bleakest moments in her life, she has found the strength to carry on through Tess. She says: “I know everyone thinks their cat is special and all cats are, but when that cat literally keeps you going day after day, well, that’s priceless and a gift I’m honoured to have.”
Born in a barn 11 years ago, feral kitten Jasmine was either abandoned or orphaned and left to fend for herself. Fortunately, she was taken in by an animal sanctuary and rehomed to Jocelyn Trickett and her daughter Martine. With plenty of TLC, Jasmine was transformed from feisty and frightened feral into a loving and loyal pet. For Jocelyn, who is elderly and disabled, Jasmine’s remarkable turnaround has given her a lifelong friend and companion.
Oscar appeared at the home of Stuart Hartley’s mother one day, in poor condition and missing his tail. Taking pity on him, Mrs Hartley took him in and nursed him back to health. A few years later, Mrs Hartley died but the companionship and love he showed her was so much that the priest paid tribute to Oscar at her funeral. Following her death, Stuart adopted Oscar, and he is a happy reminder of his mother and a “daily delight”. He says: “Whilst sitting outside the front door, I hear a constant stream of “Hello Oscar” from passers-by”.
To find out more about adopting one of the 7,000 rescue cats currently in the care of Cats Protection, please contact the charity’s National Helpline on 03000 12 12 12.