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Could Mikey from Southend-on-Sea be Cats Protection’s National Cat of the Year?

27 Jul Could Mikey from Southend-on-Sea be Cats Protection’s National Cat of the Year?

A cat from Southend-on-Sea who helped his owner cope after her baby was stillborn been named as a finalist in Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2021.

Mikey beat hundreds of other entries to take his place as one of three contenders in the Outstanding Rescue Cat category, celebrating cats adopted from rehoming charities.

The loving puss was selected as a finalist in recognition of how he helped Jessica Barnard cope after her first child was stillborn in July 2017.

With partner Connor required to return to his Army posting shortly after, Jessica struggled to cope with her loss, and retreated away from family and friends.

But life seemed brighter after a friend suggested she take in Mikey – a former stray who had lost an eye after developing a painful abscess.

Jessica said: “I was in a very difficult place and had basically shut myself off from the world. When a friend mentioned Mikey at Cats Protection, something just clicked. I had a need to care for something, and he sounded like he needed some TLC.

“When he arrived, everything seemed that little bit better. He was my little friend, always there, quietly pottering about. I felt more relaxed and calmer, and my counsellor noticed I was talking more, which helped me get more out of my counselling sessions.

“I was still having treatment for high blood pressure, but after Mikey arrived my blood pressure dropped and I could come off medication. He was thriving, and it gave me a lot of pleasure to see how happy and content he became.

“Mikey brings nothing but love, and we have a very close bond. He is a one in a million to me.”

Four years after losing her first son, Jessica and Connor now have a happy and healthy boy, Jenson.

After last year’s event was postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions, Jessica and Connor now face a nail-biting wait until Thursday 5 August when all four category winners will be revealed online. A celebrity panel will then decide which cat walks away with the coveted title of National Cat of the Year, which will be announced on Thursday 12 August.

Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards, organised by the UK’s largest cat charity and sponsored by Purina, is a celebration of the real-life stories of heroism, loyalty and companionship in the feline world.

This year’s National Cat of the Year will follow in the paw prints of previous winner Jeffree, a life-changing moggy from Coventry who helped teenager Finn Hackeson, who has Asperger syndrome, cope with the death of his father.

Cats Protection’s awards organiser Kate Bunting said: “It’s impossible not to find Jessica and Mikey’s story incredibly moving. Mikey had clearly had a very tough time as a stray, yet he still had such a huge heart and has helped Jessica cope during the most difficult days imaginable. We hope their story will encourage more people to adopt one of the many special cats at rescue centres looking for a new home.”

Each category winner will receive a trophy, a £100 pet store voucher, a year’s subscription to Cats Protection’s The Cat magazine and a three months’ supply of Purina cat food.