Puss who raised the alarm as fire engulfed family home scoops Cats Protection’s National Cat of the Year 2016 award
A plucky puss who saved the day by waking her family as a fire engulfed their home was crowned overall winner in Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2016, sponsored by PURINA®.
Five-year-old Tink leapt on to a bed to raise the alarm as a blaze took hold while owners Claire and Russell Hopkinson and sons Jake, 19, and Scott, 22, slept in their home in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.
At an awards ceremony at The Savoy in London back in August last year, the brave tortoiseshell moggy was crowned overall winner after first scooping the Hero Cat award.
Claire, who was at the awards ceremony to accept Tink’s award, 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.”
The family had been sleeping at their home in the early hours one morning in February when an electrical fault in a neighbouring property sparked the fire.
“I was fast asleep when I felt this thud on my legs and realised it was Tink. She doesn’t sleep on our bed and it was unlike her to be on it. As soon as I opened my eyes all I could see was white smoke.
“My two sons sleep with their doors shut and when I opened Scott’s door, this thick black smoke bellowed out. The smoke had passed through the vent straight into his room and he was fast asleep. Because his door was shut the smoke hadn’t yet reached the fire alarm – without Tink waking me Scott would have been in huge danger.
“We quickly got out of the house but, in the commotion, Tink took fright and hid behind a cupboard. When the firefighters arrived they asked if anyone was in the house and we explained our cat was.
“A firefighter went in and found her but, when he brought her out, she was unconscious and limp. We were heartbroken and thought we’d lost her. But the firefighters had a special oxygen mask for animals and Scott sat in the fire engine holding it on her for an hour until she came round.
“I can’t explain how relieved and happy we were she pulled through. Tink is a truly special cat, we love her to bits. She’s our hero and an essential part of our family and we’re so proud of her for what she did.”
Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards is the UK’s largest celebration of real-life stories of companionship, bravery and survival in the cat world.
Tink was first chosen as the winner of the Hero Cat category by celebrity judge, actress Anita Dobson, before being chosen as overall winner by a panel of former celebrity judges.
Other celebrities at the ceremony – hosted by BBC announcer and “voice of the balls” Alan Dedicoat – were presenter Tim Vincent, musician Rick Wakeman and writer and broadcaster Andrew Collins.
Anita said: “Tink’s story stood out because it really tugged on my heartstrings, particularly the part where she passed out and had to be resuscitated by firefighters. She is a true hero!”
Tink beat four other finalists to take the top prize – 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 helps his owner cope when a rare illness which left her paralysed and Smokie who helped a teenage boy come to terms with the death of his stepfather.
There was also a Special Recognition Award for a rescue cat from Dundee who helped her owner overcome serious mental health issues.1
As well as the honour of being crowned National Cat of the Year, Tink and her owners received a prize of a trophy, a pet store voucher, a year’s subscription to Cats Protection’s The Cat magazine and a three-month supply of PURINA® pet food.
Kate Bunting, the awards organiser at Cats Protection, said Tink’s story was inspiring. “She is truly remarkable and just goes to show how important cats are to family life. Her quick thinking alerted the whole family to a potential disaster,” she said.
“It was particularly poignant to hear how devastated the family were when they thought Tink had succumbed to smoke inhalation. It just goes to show how important cats are to family life and we are so pleased that she managed to pull through.”
Tink follows in the paw prints of a long line of feline heroes honoured by Cats Protection. Previous winners have included Jessi-Cat, who was celebrated for helping a seven-year-old boy cope with Selective Mutism, a condition which affects his ability to speak and Nelson, a one-eyed former stray from County Durham, who survived nearly drowning and 15 years living rough.
PURINA® UK&I Finance Director, Paul Vernon said: “We are delighted to celebrate our long-standing support of Cats Protection by sponsoring the National Cat Awards. This is the fifth time PURINA® has sponsored the event and we are delighted to continue our partnership and support the wonderful work the organisation does.
“PURINA® is a proud supporter of pet adoption. Our current campaign to change the perceptions of rescue cats aims to encourage people to rethink rescues when they are considering owning a cat. We believe that people and pets are better together and that, when they bond, life becomes richer. The awards are a great platform for cat owners across the UK to share inspirational stories of how that special bond with their pets has improved their lives.”