Mikey, the one-eyed cat, won a National Cat Award, the best in his category for Outstanding Rescue Cat for 2021. Each year, the leading UK charity Cats Protection holds the awards as a “celebration of the companionship of cats.”
Mikey was a stray black cat from Southend, now being celebrated for helping his human family cope with the loss of a stillborn baby. Mother Jessica Barnard lost her boy in 2017, and then her husband Connor had to return to his Army posting immediately afterward.
Devastated by the loss and overcome with grief, Jessica withdrew from friends, family, and the world. Worse, she was suffering physically, too, requiring treatment for high blood pressure.
A Sudden Offer to Adopt Mikey
One day, Jessica’s friend unexpectedly called, mentioning that Mikey needed a home. As a stray, the cat had suffered greatly on the streets. Due to an abscess, one of his eyes had to be removed. Now, he needed to be loved and given the care to restore him to health again.
At that moment, something told Jessica that she needed to take a chance. So, she adopted the former stray from Cats Protection. As it turns out, the decision changed her life forever.
“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,” said Jessica.
Darkness Starts to Lift as Both Recover
Instinctively, Jessica knew caring for the cat might be just what she needed.
“I had a need to care for something, and he sounded like he needed some TLC,” she said.
Right away, Jessica fell in love with Mikey, and the feeling was mutual. Now, with the constant quiet companionship the cat offered, she began to open up, little by little. As Mikey began to recover, she recovered, and the darkness lifted.
“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 counselor noticed I was talking more, which helped me get more out of my counseling sessions.”
Mikey and Family
Today, Jessica and her husband Connor enjoy life with their son Jenson. After adopting Mikey, Jessica’s life turned around, and she has even seen significant health improvements.
“I was still having treatment for high blood pressure, but after Mikey arrived, my blood pressure dropped, and I could come off medication,” she told the local news.
“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.”
See a video about Mikey and his human Jessica Barnard from Cats Protection below:
2021 Cat of the Year: Minty
The 2021 Cat of the Year award went to Minty, a beautiful nine-year-old cat with three legs. Winners were chosen in a virtual version of the annual “star-studded” ceremony.
As with Mikey, the cat changed the lives of his human family. In this case, Minty helps Connor, 6, with a range of medical conditions and learning difficulties. The two are always together, and the cat helps calm the boy, providing companionship and fun. According to Cats Protection, Minty helped Connor learn to climb the stairs.
“Connor has grown up alongside Minty and they have become inseparable,” said Connor’s mother, Siobhan. “Minty is always by Connor’s side and seems to understand he is a little different. We would be lost without him and he deserves to be recognized for being such a special fur brother.”
Celebrating How Cats Change Lives
A panel of celebrity judges chose the overall National Cat of the Year, including Grammy-nominated singer Laura White and comedian Russell Kane.
According to Kane, choosing the winners was extremely difficult but he added:
“They were all amazing, but what clinched it for me was Minty’s nature, the fact that he’s a three-legged moggy (that’s when I started sobbing), the way it shows that cats can be working animals,” he said.
Then, he pointed out how cats can help their humans on so many levels.
“I truly believe cats aren’t used enough in teaching companionship in therapeutic ways and so for me, because it drives forward the species argument that cats are wonderful creatures, not just for them being furry and being stroked, but for the emotional benefits and the teaching benefits and the assistance they can bring to people’s lives…so congratulations, well done, Minty!”
Mikey and Minty were just two of many amazing cats awarded with many heart-warming stories.
Photo: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire via Southend Echo