Southend-on-Sea cat Mikey scoops win at Cats Protection's National Cat Awards 2021 – In Your Area

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The loving puss was honoured in recognition of how he helped Jessica Barnard cope after her first child was stillborn in July 2017.
Jessica Barnard with Mikey, who has been announced as the winner of the ‘Outstanding Rescue Cat’ category. Image: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire
Submitted by Cats Protection
A cat from Southend-on-Sea, in Essex, who helped his owner cope after her baby was stillborn has won a prestigious award at the National Cat Awards 2021.
Mikey was chosen by celebrity judge and comedian Bob Mortimer as the winner of the Outstanding Rescue Cat category, celebrating cats adopted from rehoming charities.
The loving puss was honoured 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 think Mikey’s story shows that however much help rescue cats may need, you should never underestimate how much they have to offer. Mikey and I found each other when we both needed each other the most. When I think back to that time, it was very hard for us both but we got through the tough times together.
“Things are much brighter now, and it’s brilliant to now be able to share the good times with Mikey. There’s nothing like the feeling of knowing you’ve helped each other, and we have such a strong bond as a result. I hope this story will inspire many more people to adopt a rescue cat – with so many cats in need of homes, there’s a Mikey out there for everyone.”
Celebrity judge and comedian Bob Mortimer said: “There are thousands of animals all over the country currently in rescue shelters or being looked after by charities, but the good news is these organisations are dedicated to finding just the right home for each animal.
“I felt very privileged to hear the three finalists’ stories who all helped their owners through incredibly hard times. I chose Mikey because both Mikey and Jessica helped each other in equal measure.”
Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards, organised by the UK’s largest cat charity and sponsored by Purina, is the biggest celebration of the real-life stories of heroism, loyalty, and companionship in the feline world. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s event is being held online.

The owners of Mikey and three other category winners will now face a nail-biting wait until August 12 when the overall National Cat of the Year will be announced. The winner will be selected by a celebrity panel made up of 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.
Cats Protection’s awards organiser Kate Bunting said: “Jessica and Mikey’s story is incredibly moving and goes to show what an amazing impact that rescue cats can have on the lives of the people who welcome them into their home. Anyone who has adopted a rescue cat will say that there is something very special about them, and Mikey is the perfect example of that.”
The National Cat of the Year will be announced on Cats Protection’s Facebook page on Thursday 12 August. Find out more here.
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