Toby beat out hundreds of other entries to take his place in the finals of Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2018, in the Hero Cat category - which celebrates cats that save the day.
The two-year-old puss earned his place in recognition of the way he is able to alert owner Annette Sterland-Burton to the onset of a debilitating seizure. Annette began having seizures after developing functional neurological disorder as a complication of meningitis two years ago. As well as affecting her memory and mobility, the condition means she can suffer black-outs and seizures.
But thanks to intuitive Toby, Annette is alerted to the seizures before they begin, which gives her two children, aged nine and 15, the chance to call for help.
Annette said: “My eldest daughter Tonia chose Toby before she left for university, and he quickly became a much-loved pet. But when we noticed how he sensed my seizures it became apparent that he’s much more than a pet – he’s a lifeline.
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“The seizures come out of the blue, with no warning, yet Toby can sense when one is about to start. He’ll start pawing me and meowing loudly. He becomes very noisy and just won’t leave me alone. My son, Kieran, knows to ring his nan or one of his older sisters, so someone can come to help us.
“It’s so reassuring knowing Toby is looking out for us all, and we wouldn’t be without him.”
The award’s winners will be announced at a ceremony at London’s Savoy on August 5, 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, is an annual celebration of the real-life stories of heroism, loyalty and companionship in the feline world. If Toby wins his category, he will also be in with a chance of being crowned National Cat of the Year.
Cats Protection’s awards organiser Kate Bunting said: “While pets can be trained to recognise the signs of particular medical conditions, Toby is able to do this without any specialist training. He’s clearly a remarkable cat, being both a much-loved pet and a lifeline to the whole family in an emergency.”