A cluster of caring cats lead the way in this year’s Cats Protection National Cat Awards.
Feline friends who helped people through difficult periods dominate the 2021 list, including one cat who visits a nearby remembrance park to comfort mourners.
This year’s event – sponsored by Purina – is comprised of four categories: Furr-ever Friends, Most Caring Cat, Outstanding Rescue Cat and Purina Better Together.
Among the hopefuls are Minty, from Holywell, Flintshire, who lost one of his legs after being hit by a car.
Minty’s human companion Connor Raven, six, has severe learning difficulties as well as other medical conditions.
The pet comes to Connor’s aid when things get difficult, rubbing his face on Connor’s hand, while he also helped his friend learn to climb the stairs.
“Minty would spend hours jumping one step at a time, stopping to allow Connor to catch up,” said Connor’s mother, Siobhan Cobb.
“It was incredible to witness him patiently encourage Connor to achieve something he found so difficult.
“Connor can be very loud, and his medical conditions mean he’s very wobbly and clumsy. Many pets would understandably keep their distance, but not Minty – when Connor is at his most in need, Minty is there like a shot.”
Another magnificent moggy is Paddy, from Cheshire, who makes daily trips to Co-op Funeralcare’s Mayfields Remembrance Park near his home to comfort mourners.
“He’s a very calm and gentle cat, and we’ve heard lovely stories of how him being there has helped people cope during a difficult day,” said owner Stuart.
“He’s very committed to his day job, and sometimes if it’s 6pm and he’s not home I will jump in the car and drive down to the burial ground.
“I open the car door and call his name and he’ll come running and jump in, ready to go home for his tea.”
Meanwhile Bruno, from Leeds, was discovered by Caroline and Damon Green after their five-day-old daughter Freyja died.
While learning to live with their grief, Caroline and Damon found a box of four abandoned kittens and took them in, deciding to keep Bruno after rehoming the other three.
“We had a lot of love to give, and the kittens gave us something to focus on and care for,” said Caroline, 32.
“Looking back now, they were just what we needed to help us cope. Caring for them took the edge off the pain and brought a ray of light into some very hard days.
“Bruno was the one that really struggled with confidence and was very afraid. We had to do lots of work to socialise him and as a result I got very close to him.
“When the time came, I knew I couldn’t be parted with him, so we kept him.”
Winners of each category will receive a trophy, a £100 pet store voucher, a year’s subscription to Cats Protection’s magazine and three months of Purina cat food.
The winners will be announced on August 5, while a week later the National Cat of the Year will be decided by a celebrity panel.