Cats Protection invite nominations from across the UK in a variety of cat-egories. The Awards celebrate real-life stories of companionship, bravery and heroism in the cat world, and from the many hundreds received, fifteen finalists in five categories are chosen. What a task that must be!
The five categories include Hero Cat, for cats that saved the day, and Furr-ever Friends which celebrates tales of friendship between children and cats. The owners of the finalist cats, Cats Protection staff and trustees, celebrities and media attended the lunch and awards ceremony, with the identity of the winning cats being kept secret until the last minute. And just look at the lunch!
Led by 'the Voice of the Balls', Alan Dedicoat, and featuring a host of celebrities, the ceremony made us laugh, made us smile and made us cry - should have guessed the last one from the boxes of tissues placed surreptitiously on the tables!
Being in a room full of cat lovers, celebrating extraordinary feline tales of survival, companionship and bravery, was fantastic, and of course we wanted all of them to win! The first winner was in the hotly contested category of Hero Cat, and was won by pretty tortoiseshell Tink, who had raised the alarm as a fire took hold in her family home. Tink singlehandedly saved the lives of her owners (let's use that term loosely!), Claire and Russell Hopkinson and their two sons.
Having leapt on to Claire as she slept to raise the alarm, Tink got left behind in the commotion, until a brave firefighter went back in to rescue her. Brought out limp and unconscious, the family feared they had lost her, until the firefighters produced an oxygen mask designed especially for animals which son Scott applied to Tink's face until she came round. Accepting the award, Claire said:
"Tink has always been a much-loved pet but not a day goes past when I’m not grateful for her actions on that day. If it wasn’t for her the outcome could have been horrific, she is our true hero."
The other tear jerking categories were Most Caring Cat, for cats who have had a positive impact on their human friends' health and wellbeing, Outstanding Rescue Cat, Purina® Better Together, and Furr-ever Friends, stories of special friendships forged between children and cats. I should be entering ours in this category!
The winners were Houdini, who helps an autistic schoolboy cope with anxiety; Jessie, who gave her owners a reason to carry on after the death of their teenage daughter; Spike who helped his owner cope when a rare illness left her paralysed; and Smokie, who helped a teenage boy come to terms with the death of his stepfather. Read more about the finalists and the winners, as seen below, over on the Cats Protection website.
Brave Tink received the ultimate accolade for her heroic endeavours as she was also voted Cat of the Year by a panel of celebrity judges. You can see more about her amazing story here:
Cats Protection is the UK's leading feline welfare charity. They help around 200,000 cats and kittens every year through a national network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 32 centres.
The Purina Better With Pets campaign champions their belief that people and pets are better together.
Some photos c/o Philippa Gedge Photography