1. ITV Report

Inspiring tails from the Midlands at the Cat of the Year Awards

Credit: Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2019

Fantastic felines are competing at the National Cat Awards this evening (Thursday 8 August) to be crowned Top Cat - including six remarkable kittens from the Midlands.

The five categories are as follows:

  • The 'Better Together' category, which celebrates the special bond that can transform the lives of cats and their owners.
  • The 'Furrever Friends' category, which celebrates the special bond between children and cats.
  • The 'Hero Cat', which celebrates cats that save the day.
  • The 'Outstanding Rescue Cat', which celebrates cats adopted from rehoming charities.
  • The 'Most Caring Cat', which celebrates cats that positively impact their owner’s health or wellbeing.

The winner of each will then be in with a chance of being crowned 'National Cat of the Year 2019'.

Here are the inspiring tales of the kitty contenders and their proud owners...

Douglas from Derby

Credit: Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2019

The tabby was selected as a finalist because of how he helps owner Luci Mahon, 43, cope with a brain injury and the neurological condition M.E.

Luci and husband Geoff Fisher had previously taken in Douglas as an underweight stray and had nursed him back to health.

“I was walking home when I came across Douglas in the street, and he was not in good shape.

We took him to a vet, and tried to trace whether he had an owner but it was clear he was a stray, so he came home with us."

“He was in a very bad way – he had fleas, was underweight and had multiple bite and injury marks. We gave him lots of TLC and after a few months he had flourished into a beautiful and loving pet."

“A few months later, in May 2017, I suffered a brain injury as a result of medication I had been prescribed. I’ve been more or less bedridden ever since, and my ability to think, see and hear has been very badly affected."

“All the time I’ve been ill, Douglas has been amazing. He is a very loving cat, always wanting to snuggle up for a cuddle. He’s never far from my side, and even though I’m not able to leave the house, I can never feel lonely with him around.”

– Luci Mahon

Herman from Buxton, Derbyshire

Credit: Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2019

The three-year-old was selected as a finalist because of how he helped Claire Yates cope after her parents died suddenly, just one day apart in February 2018.

Soon after, Claire was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 42, and Herman was again there to offer support.

“After my parents died I was walking around in a daze, trying to organise a joint funeral and sort everything out.

“Herman has also kept me busy and distracted throughout this awful time and still does. When things feel difficult, he just watches you and draws you into his sense of peace.

"I love every ounce of his being and he’s got me through one of the toughest times in my life by giving me unconditional love, lifting my spirits and making me smile, even if at first I didn’t want to.”

– Claire Yates

Jeffree from Coventry

Credit: Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2019

The eight-year-old was selected as a finalist because of how he helped Finn Hackeson, 13, adjust after the sudden death of his dad in June 2018.

Because he has Asperger syndrome, Finn finds it difficult to communicate with people and had become increasingly depressed and withdrawn.

“Finn’s dad sadly died just 12 weeks after finding out he had lung cancer.

“He was understandably devastated, and having Asperger’s made it even harder for him to make sense of what had happened. > "Within a few months, he had become locked into a cycle of despair and depression.

“We brought Jeffree home and the difference was utterly remarkable. They bonded straight away and have been inseparable ever since.

“Suddenly, Finn was coping again. Finn and Jeffree have an amazing connection, they belong to each other."

– Finn's mum Gayle Atkins

Walter from Swadlincote, Derbyshire

Credit: Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2019

The nine-year-old was selected because of how he wakes his owner Hazel Parkyn when she’s about to suffer a potentially life-threatening hypoglycemic attack in her sleep.

Although some animals can be trained as medical emergency detection pets to alert their owners, Walter hasn't received any training.

"Walter really is a remarkable cat and may have saved my life many times over.

"When my blood sugar runs low it can be very serious, especially if I’m asleep as I may not be able to wake up.

“Yet Walter can sense when this is about to happen and will repeatedly pat me on the face until I wake. He’ll then sit with me while I get my sugar levels back to normal.“He’s a great pet and I love having him around but he’s more than that, he’s a lifesaver.”

– Hazel Parkyn

JJ from Alcester, Warwickshire

Credit: Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2019

The seven-year-old was selected because of how he helps his owner Edwina Norris who is 83, cope after being diagnosed with lymphoma cancer.

"We adopted JJ four years ago and at first he was very nervous. But eventually he started to come out of his shell and blossomed into the most loving of cats.

“When I became ill he became even more attentive and, on the bad days, he would choose to come and lie with me. > "Just stroking him seems to make everything so much better.

“JJ is always there, gently purring by my side. It’s such a comfort to have him around when things are hard.”

– Edwina Norris

Cisco from Kettering

Credit: Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2019

The 18-month-old was selected because of how he helped Charlie Hammond recover after he was mugged in 2017, aged just 14.

"Charlie had already been struggling with anxiety when he was set upon while out with his friends. It was a dreadful time and affected Charlie very deeply.

“Charlie was in a very bad way, he didn’t want to leave the house and withdrew into himself. He stopped all contact with his friends and his anxiety spiralled out of control.

"I couldn’t believe the change in Charlie as soon as Cisco arrived – it was like the fog just lifted. > "Suddenly, Charlie had a sparkle back in his eye, and a friend to keep him company even when he couldn’t leave the house."

– Charlie's mum Zoe