National Cat of the Year and Most Incredible Story winnerTwenty-year-old Nelson, a one eyed cat rescued from the sea as a kitten, was crowned ‘National Cat of the Year’ and the winner of the Most Incredible Story category.
Callously thrown into the sea in a sack, he was one of only two of his littermates to survive when a fisherman plucked them from the waves. He had a harsh few years living rough on the docks and lost an eye when a gang of youths threw rocks at him. But in 2009 his life turned around when he was adopted by a loving family. Despite being diagnosed with an inoperable heart tumour in January 2014, Nelson has fought back and amazed vets with his zest for life.
Nelson was selected as the National Cat of the Year by a panel of celebrity judges; and he was chosen as the winner of the Most Incredible Story category by actor Paul Copley.
Hero Cat winnerThe Hero Cat award was scooped by Cleo from Chessington in Surrey who stayed by her owner’s side in a time of need. When the normally placid and laid-back Cleo started running up and down the stairs and behaving strangely, owner Pauline Jenkins knew something was wrong. So when her husband Richard complained of chest pains she quickly dialled 999. Paramedics arrived and confirmed Richard had suffered a heart attack and needed emergency treatment. Despite being wary of strangers, loyal Cleo only left Richard’s side when he was taken to hospital and upon his return stayed with him around the clock until he was back on his feet.
Most Caring Cat winnerElias from Hillesden, Buckinghamshire is the winner of our Most Caring Cat award. For army veteran Jack Dignam-Thomas, Elias is more than a pet. He is a vital link to the world when he becomes consumed by the painful effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. When his symptoms start, Jack can spend long periods of time withdrawing into himself and it is then that three-year-old Elias steps in. By jumping up and demanding fuss and attention, Elias can bring Jack round and help him engage once more in everyday life.
Outstanding Rescue Cat winnerThree-legged Legz is truly the Cat Ambassador of London. Since being adopted by Charlotte Despard pub landlords Amber Knight and Chris Sparks he has taken a liking to pub life and has become part of the furniture. He has an uncanny knack for winning round non-cat lovers and has inspired many Kentish Town locals to adopt rescue cats of their own and even one to start volunteering for a cat charity. People travel from far and wide to meet chirpy five-year-old Legz and bring him toys and catnip gifts, with Amber and Chris saying he has helped to bring communities together.
PURINA Better Together winnerMr Chips, winner of our Purina Better Together award, has had his share of hard luck. Found as a stray with a badly broken leg, he was left with a permanent disability. But that hasn’t stopped him living life to the full and when new owner Ian Turner was diagnosed with a complex medical condition, Mr Chips proved to be an incredible support. In the past three years, Ian has undergone a dozen operations, affecting both his physical and mental health, and leaving him at times feeling suicidal. Throughout it all has been eight-year-old Mr Chips, who Ian says has kept him going through times of despair.
Special Recognition Award winnerThis story doesn’t fit into the defined categories but stood out to us as a heart breaking example of the special bond we can share with our pets. Holly in St Annes, Lancashire is everything to Keith Smith, for the most tragic of reasons. In 2012, Keith lost four of his grandchildren – Reece, Holly, Ella and Jordan - in a house fire in Freckleton. Not long after this, his son also sadly passed away. Since then, heartbroken Keith has drawn much comfort from his pet cat Holly.
You can also read our highlights of the National Cat Awards 2014.