A cat from Eastham, who spends his days comforting mourners at a burial site has been named as a finalist in Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2021.
Paddy beat hundreds of other entries to take his place as one of three contenders in the Most Caring Cat category, celebrating cats that have a positive impact on people’s health or wellbeing.
The 10-year-old puss was selected as a finalist in recognition of the comforting presence he provides at the Co-op Funeralcare’s Mayfields Remembrance Park in Eastham.
Paddy, who lives nearby with owners Christina Jones and Stuart Hague, spends most days pottering around the site. If requested by grieving relatives or friends, Paddy even attends services, where his gentle manner is a comfort to mourners.
Proud owner Stuart explained,
The burial ground is about a five-minute walk from our home, and Paddy will head off there most days after his breakfast. If he’s hanging around, the staff ask mourners if they’re happy for him to stay, and he’ll often sit during a service, sometimes in the front row or walking alongside the coffin.
He’ll often join mourners outside and will happily sit with them for as long as they want to stroke him. He’s a very calm and gentle cat, and we’ve heard lovely stories of how he has helped people cope during a difficult day.
When we found out about his double life, it really didn’t surprise us at all. He loves to be around people and is such a sweet-natured cat. He’s one of those cats that has something very special about him, and everyone that knows him agrees he has a comforting presence.
He’s very committed to his day job, and sometimes if it’s 6pm and he’s not home I will jump in the car and drive down to the burial ground. I open the car door and call his name and he’ll come running and jump in, ready to go home for his tea.
We are very proud of him, and I’m so glad he is a ray of sunshine to so many people as they say goodbye to a loved one.
After last year’s event was postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions, Christina and Stuart 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 incredibly touching to hear how much comfort Paddy brings to people during times of such sorrow. In the most unexpected on places, Paddy is there to raise a smile or provide a soothing presence, and we hope he’ll continue to help many more people.
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.
Images: Fabio De Paola/PA Wire