A cat from Colne who helped a teenager cope with the loss of his stepdad has been named as a finalist in Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2021.

Simba beat hundreds of other entries to take his place as one of three contenders in the Furrever Friends category, celebrating tales of friendship between cats and children.

The two-year-old puss was selected as a finalist in recognition of how he helped Ben Moulding, then aged 16, in August 2018. During a traumatic eight weeks, Ben’s stepdad Paul was hospitalised before sadly passing away.

Lancashire Telegraph: Simba (Photo: Richard Walker/ PA Wire, Cats Protection/PA)Simba (Photo: Richard Walker/ PA Wire, Cats Protection/PA)

Mum Liz Edmondson Day explained: “I work at a vet practice and Simba had been handed in after being found on the street with a broken hip, pelvis and jaw. He was in a terrible state, but once the vets got him fixed up, we decided to give him a home.

“Just a week later, my husband Paul was taken to hospital with complications following cancer treatment. I was at his bedside for eight weeks, and Ben spent a lot of time on his own. It was a very sad, confusing and lonely time for him, but thankfully he had Simba.

“Even though he’d been through so much and was only a tiny kitten himself, Simba became incredibly affectionate and would cuddle up close to Ben and follow him around. It was the companionship he needed, and gave him a reason to smile and keep going through some very dark days.

“Since then, Ben has been diagnosed with epilepsy and again, Simba was there to help us all through.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Liz and Ben (Photo: Richard Walker/ PA Wire Cats Protection/PA)Liz and Ben (Photo: Richard Walker/ PA Wire Cats Protection/PA)

Now aged 18, Ben has started university to study Economics at the University of Manchester.

After last year’s event was postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions, the family now face a nail-biting wait until Thursday 5 August when all four category winners will be revealed online.  

A panel will then decide which cat walks away with the coveted title of National Cat of the Year, which will be announced on Thursday 12 August.

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.

Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards, organised by the UK’s largest cat charity and sponsored by Purina, is a celebration of the real-life stories of heroism, loyalty and companionship in the feline world.

This year’s National Cat of the Year will follow in the paw prints of previous winner Jeffree, a life-changing moggy from Coventry who helped teenager Finn Hackeson, who has Asperger syndrome, cope with the death of his father.

Cats Protection’s awards organiser Kate Bunting said: “It’s incredibly moving to hear how, despite a rough start in life, one little kitten can make such an impact on a family during such a difficult time. Simba was there for Ben just when he needed a friend the most, and we’re so pleased they found 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.