A three-legged moggy who helps a six-year-old boy with severe learning difficulties and medical conditions has been named National Cat of the Year 2021.
Minty, from Holywell, Wales, beat hundreds of other entries to be named overall winner in the nation’s biggest celebration of pet cats, organised by Cats Protection.
The nine-year-old puss was recognised in honour of the support he gives to Connor Raven. Connor has severe learning difficulties and a range of medical conditions, including ataxic cerebral palsy, which affect his physical, mental and emotional development.
Minty helps Connor cope with daily life, from keeping him settled at meal-times to providing a calming presence at bedtime. When the world is too much and Connor suffers an emotional meltdown, Minty will spring into action and nuzzle up close to help calm him.
Remarkably, the caring puss – who only has three legs following a road accident – even helped Connor learn to climb the stairs, a huge achievement given his developmental issues.
Minty’s owner and Connor’s mum Siobhan Cobb, 31, said: “I’m over the moon that Minty has been recognised for the special cat that he is. He is a huge part of our family unit and it is lovely to share the unique bond the boys have.
“Minty demonstrates how clever, affectionate and dependable cats can be. We can always rely on him to make everything better, and he is the best friend that Connor needs and deserves.
“Having only three legs never stops Minty enjoying life, and I think that rubs off on Connor. Together, they are unstoppable, whatever comes their way. Minty’s a really inspirational cat and we love him to bits.”
Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards, organised by the UK’s largest cat charity and sponsored by Purina, is an annual celebration of the real-life stories of loyalty and companionship in the feline world. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event is being held online.
Minty was selected as National Cat of the Year by a panel of celebrity judges including The Chase’s Jenny ‘The Vixen’ Ryan, BBC TV weather presenters Owain Wyn Evans and Elizabeth Rizzini, journalist Camilla Tominey, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Laura White and regular National Cat Awards judges, David and Frankie Seaman.
He was chosen as overall winner after celebrity judge Russell Kane first selected him as winner of the Furrever Friends category, celebrating the bond between children and cats.
Category judge and comedian Russell Kane chose Minty as his winner and said: “I truly believe cats aren’t used enough in teaching companionship and therapeutic ways, and for me, Minty’s story drives forward the argument that cats are wonderful creatures, not just for them being furry and being stroked, but for the emotional benefits, the teaching benefits and the assistance they can bring to people’s lives.”
Panel judge and BBC TV weather presenter Elizabeth Rizzini said: “I’m choosing Minty for his dedication to Connor his best pal and for not ever giving up on him. But it was a tough decision!”
Cats Protection’s awards organiser Kate Bunting said: “Minty is an incredible cat and a very deserving winner of the National Cat of the Year. He goes to show the life-changing and incredible bond which can be shared between children and cats. Minty has never let his own challenges stand in his way, and his zest for life is clear to see.
“Like many cats, Minty loves to be in the thick of family life, and we’re so pleased that Connor has such a great friend by his side.”
Other category winners are:
- Devoted Boris, who recovered from terrible injuries to be a loyal companion to 80-year-old Alex Tullis.
- Loving rescue cat Mikey, who helped his owner cope after her baby was stillborn.
- Caring Penelope Farthing, who senses when her owner is about to suffer a debilitating seizure.
To find out more about all the finalists’ stories in this year’s National Cat Awards, please visit www.cats.org.uk/support-us/events/nca
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