Tink (pictured above) from Shrewsbury has been named top cat at the Cats Protection National Cat Awards Ceremony after she saved her family from a fire before having to be rescued by a firefighter herself.
Five year old Tink leapt onto a bed to raise the alarm as the blaze took hold while owners Claire and Russell Hopkinson and sons Jake, 19, and Scott, 22, slept in their home in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.
At the awards ceremony, held at The Savoy in London on Thursday, the brave tortoiseshell moggy was crowned overall winner after first scooping the Hero Cat category.
Claire, who was at the 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, she is our true hero.”
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 Tin," says Claire. "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.
“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 judges comprising of actor Paul Copley, singer Saffron Sprackling, former Hollyoaks actors Carley Stenson and Danny Mac and musician Rick Wakeman.
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. Yummy!
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.
Winners of the other categories at the National Cat Awards ceremony included the in-house therapy cat, Houdini from Stoke-On-Trent who won the Furr-ever Friends prize who helps Harri, 10, who's on the autistic spectrum and suffers from anxiety attacks.
There was also Jessie from Peterborough who won Outstanding Rescue Cat for the comfort she brought Tracey Jessop-Thompson and her husband Stephen when their 18-year-old daughter Lucy died suddenly from a cardiac arrest as a result of an undiagnosed heart condition.
Peggy from Dundee took home the Special Recognition Award for her companionship, loyalty and support which transformed the life of owner Kirsty Oliphant who has a long history of mental health issues and had frequently been admitted to a psychiatric hospital following suicide attempts.
Meanwhile, Spike from Abergavenny who was awarded Most Caring Cat for the support, companionship and inspiration she brings to Maria Price who was left paralysed almost overnight by a rare illness.
What a brave bunch of moggies they are! We couldn't be happier that they've got the recongition they deserve.
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