Fareham cat in running to win award for friendship with disabled teenager

A CAT from Fareham who is a constant companion to a teenager with muscular dystrophy has been named as a finalist in Cats Protection's National Cat Awards 2018.

Monday, 4th June 2018, 11:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 2:28 pm
Jared Bignold and his cat Salem

Eight-year-old Salem beat hundreds of other entries to take his place as one of three contenders in the Furr-ever Friends category, celebrating the special bond between children and cats.

The black feline was selected in recognition of the support, friendship and companionship he gives to teenager Jared Bignold, 15, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a severe muscle wasting condition causing progressive mobility limitations.

Mum Verity said: ‘Jared has been in a wheelchair for a few years now and is very limited in what he’s able to do. ‘Yet he is never alone, as Salem is always by his side and provides a huge amount of comfort, affection and entertainment.

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‘Life is not straightforward for Jared, and it would be easy for him to feel lonely and isolated.

‘But because of Salem, he always has a friend to snuggle up to and chat with.

‘We can’t imagine life without Salem, he really is the heart of our home.’

Jared and Verity, along with dad Trevor and sister Imogen, now face a nail-biting wait until Thursday August 2 when winners will be announced at The Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards ceremony at London’s Savoy, an event attended by celebrities including BBC broadcaster Andrew Collins, model Lucy Pinder and Holby City actress Chizzy Akudolu.

The awards, organised by the UK’s largest cat charity and sponsored by PURINA®, is an annual celebration of the real-life stories of heroism, loyalty and companionship in the feline world and if Salem wins his category, he will also be in with a chance of being crowned National Cat of the Year, following in the paw prints of previous winner Genie, a cat from Lincoln who helped schoolgirl Evie Henderson battle bone cancer.

Cats Protection’s awards organiser Kate Bunting said: ‘Salem and Jared share an incredible bond, and it’s touching to hear of the companionship, affection and comfort they provide to each other.’

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 for their cat.

Claire Robinson-Davies, Head of Corporate Communications UK & Ireland at PURINA said: ‘From the heart-warming to the amusing, the strength of this year’s finalists really shows the incredible bond people have with their pets and the positive impact it can have on their lives.

‘We hope this award inspires more people to welcome pets into their homes.’