A HARTLEPOOL feline could be the cat that got the cream after being announced as a finalist for a national award.
Town puss Alfie was nominated for the Cat Protection’s National Cat Awards 2012 for being a constant support to his young owner Bethany Groom through her life-long illness.
Bethany, 17, has suffered with Behcet’s Syndrome since she was 18 months old and is one of less than 2,000 people in the UK to have the condition which causes inflammation of blood vessels throughout the body.
Alfie, was rescued and adopted by Bethany and her mum, Jane Groom, 40, from a town vet 10 years ago after he was found abandoned in an alleyway with a torn ear.
Since then he has proved a constant companion to the battling teen.
Jane, of Elmwood Road, Hartlepool, said: “Even when he was a young cat Alfie always stayed by Bethany’s side when she was unwell, almost like he was guarding over her.
“He’s such a loyal, loving cat and has always been there for her to offer unconditional love and loyalty. He’s the best friend a young girl could have.
“He has also been a great comfort to me during the hard times as a single parent raising such a poorly child.”
Bethany now receives medical care in London and, although her health is now much improved, her bond with Alfie remains invaluable.
The tabby and white cat is down to the last three in the Best Friends category and, should he win, he’ll be in with a chance of scooping the prestigious title of National Cat of the Year.
And now his owners face a nail-biting wait to see if Alfie is crowned winner at a star-studded awards ceremony at London’s Savoy Hotel, on Thursday, August 16.
Three cats have been shortlisted for each of the five categories in the National Cat Awards - Hero Cat, Most Incredible Story, Best Friends, Outstanding Rescue Cat and Celebrity Cat.
Winners will be announced at a ceremony hosted by Channel 4 presenter Rick Edwards and attended by celebrity judges including comedian Ed Byrne, star of Grumpy Old Men Rick Wakeman, model Lucy Pinder and former BBC newsreader Jan Leeming.
According to Kate Bunting, the awards organiser at Cats Protection, Alfie’s story was an inspiring one.
She said: “We had entries from across the length and breadth of the country and it was a tough job to narrow them down.
“Each and every entry we received told a tale about why cats have such a special place in people’s hearts – sometimes heart-rending, sometimes funny and often quite amazing!“
“We think all cats are special, but Alfie especially deserved a place in the final for his unwavering loyalty and companionship to his owners through difficult times.”
Cats Protection, the UK’s leading feline welfare charity, has around 6,200 cats and kittens in its care at any one time and rehomes and reunites over 48,000 every year. To find out more about the charity, or if you want to adopt a cat, please visit www.cats.org.uk or call the charity’s national helpline on 03000 121212.