National Cat Awards: Abandoned kitten found in cardboard box was 'ray of light' for Leeds couple grieving baby daughter's death

A cat found abandoned in a cardboard box who helped a grieving Leeds couple to cope with the pain of losing their baby daughter has been named as a finalist in this year's National Cat Awards.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 4:45 am

Caroline and Damon Green were going through the most unbearable time of their lives after their baby daughter Freyja died at just five days old, following complications at birth.

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As the couple began the painful task of learning to live with their grief, they found hope in the most unexpected of places – a cardboard box dumped near their home, containing four tiny kittens.

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Bruno the cat with his owners Caroline and Damon. Picture: Richard Walker/PA Wire

Taking the kittens home, the couple nursed them to full health, a process which in turn helped them cope with the pain of losing their daughter.

Caroline, 32, said: "We had a lot of love to give, and the kittens gave us something to focus on and care for. Looking back now, they were just what we needed to help us cope.

"Caring for them took the edge off the pain and brought a ray of light into some very hard days."

When the kittens were old enough, the couple rehomed three of them but decided to keep Bruno.

Bruno the cat. Picture: Richard Walker/PA Wire

Caroline added: "Bruno was the one that really struggled with confidence and was very afraid. We had to do lots of work to socialise him and as a result I got very close to him.

"When the time came, I knew I couldn’t be parted with him, so we kept him."

Now Bruno is in the running to be named Cats Protection’s National Cat of the Year 2021.

Organised by the cat charity and sponsored by Purina, the National Cat Awards return this year after being postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Winners in three categories will be selected by celebrity judges - comedian Bob Mortimer, funnyman Russell Kane and actress Tuppence Middleton, while the fourth category will be announced by entrepreneur Deborah Meaden following a public vote.

After category winners are announced online on August 5, an overall winner will be selected by a celebrity panel and announced on August 12.

Awards organiser Kate Bunting said: "Now more than ever, the nation’s pet cats play a hugely important role in the lives of their owners – whether it’s providing a soothing presence in worrying times, companionship for people living or working alone, or a fun and caring playmate for children.

"We are absolutely delighted to be returning with the National Cat Awards this year so we can share some of these inspirational, heart-warming and amazing stories from the cat world."

Winners in four categories - Most Caring Cat, Furr-ever Friends, Outstanding Rescue Cat and Purina Better Together - 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.

Calum Macrae, regional director UK & Ireland at Purina, said: "All the finalists are truly inspiring and go to show the hugely positive impact cats can have on people's lives, for all sorts of reasons. It's no wonder that cats have earned a special place in our hearts and homes."