A cat who alerted her family to a fire in the family home has been crowned the winner of Cats Protection’s Cat of the Year 2016 award!
Five-year-old tortoiseshell Tink saved the day back in February when, during the early hours of the morning, an electrical fault in a neighbouring property triggered a fire.
Tink, a brave puss from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, was awarded the title at an awards ceremony at The Savoy in London yesterday (August 4), after already scooping the Hero Cat award earlier on in the ceremony.
Tink leapt on to a bed to raise the alarm while owners Claire and Russell Hopkinson and sons Jake, 19, and Scott, 22, were sleeping.
Claire, who was at the awards 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.”
“I was fast asleep when I felt this thud on my legs and realised it was Tink. 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.
“My two sons sleep with their doors shut and when I opened Scott’s door, this thick black smoke bellowed out. The smoke had passed through the vent straight into his room and he was fast asleep. Because his door was shut the smoke hadn’t yet reached the fire alarm — without Tink waking me Scott would have been in huge danger.
“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, which is sponsored by PURINA®, 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 and actress Anita Dobson, before being chosen as overall winner by a panel of former celebrity judges.
Anita said: “Tink’s story stood out because it really tugged on my heartstrings, particularly the part where she passed out and had to be resuscitated by firefighters. She is a true hero!”
Tink beat four other finalists to the top spot – Houdini, who helps an autistic schoolboy cope with anxiety; Jessie, who gave her owners a reason to carry on after the death of their teenage daughter; Spike, who helps his owner cope when a rare illness which left her paralysed; and Smokie, who helped a teenage boy come to terms with the death of his stepfather.
There was also a Special Recognition Award for a rescue cat from Dundee who helped her owner overcome serious mental health issues.
As the winner of the National Cat of the Year awards, Tink and her owners went home with 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.
Kate Bunting, the awards organiser at Cats Protection, said Tink’s story was inspiring. “She is truly remarkable and just goes to show how important cats are to family life. Her quick thinking alerted the whole family to a potential disaster,” she said.
“It was particularly poignant to hear how devastated the family were when they thought Tink had succumbed to smoke inhalation. It just goes to show how important cats are to family life and we are so pleased that she managed to pull through.”
PURINA® UK&I Finance Director, Paul Vernon said: “We are delighted to celebrate our long-standing support of Cats Protection by sponsoring the National Cat Awards. This is the fifth time PURINA® has sponsored the event and we are delighted to continue our partnership and support the wonderful work the organisation does.”