A cat from Glasgow who could sense when his owner was about to suffer a seizure has been named winner of the Hero Cat category at the National Cat Awards 2019.
Jack was chosen by celebrity judge entrepreneur Deborah Meaden, in recognition of how he alerted Marcia McSwegan and her family when the 23-year-old was about to suffer a potentially deadly blackout.
Tragically, Jack, who was 17, died just two weeks before winners were announced at the Awards ceremony at London’s Savoy on 8 August.
Marcia, who was at the event to collect his award, said: “Jack suffered a sudden heart failure and died just before the Awards, so I’ve not been able to share this with him. But I’m so pleased he’s been recognised for the amazing cat he was and I hope his story will inspire more people to think about the incredible therapeutic benefits of having a cat.
“I no longer have Jack by my side and that is scary as he had raised the alarm on so many occasions. He helped me through all my teenage years and becoming an adult and I’ll never forget that bond we shared.”
Marcia, a biomedical engineering student at Glasgow University, suffers from a disabling chronic illness called global autonomic dysfunction which means she can suffer sudden blackouts without warning.
Yet despite having no training as a medical detection pet, intuitive Jack was able to sense the subtle changes leading up to a seizure. Suddenly behaving erratically, he would run to and from Marcia’s parents whenever he sensed she was about to black-out, giving the whole family an early warning.
Deborah Meaden, who selected Jack as a winner, said: “I chose Jack because he had huge responsibilities which he seemed to take very seriously, helping his young owner Marcia to live as close to a normal life as possible. It is so sad that Jack is no longer with us and I hope this award is some comfort in helping to recognise how special he was.”
Having been named winner of the Hero Cat category, Jack narrowly missed out on being named National Cat of the Year, with the title instead going to Jeffree, an eight-year-old cat who helped a teenager with Asperger syndrome cope with the death of his father.
Cats Protection’s National Cat 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.
Cats Protection’s awards organiser Kate Bunting said: “It’s a bittersweet day for Marcia and we’re all terribly sad that Jack is no longer here to share in his success. Jack was a remarkable cat in so many ways and we hope his story will inspire more people to consider welcoming a cat into their home.”
Cats Protection is the UK’s largest cat charity, helping around 200,000 cats every year through a network of 36 centres and around 250 volunteer-run branches.