Top cat JJ in line for cream of UK awards

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The purrfect companion......Award nominated JJ has been a constant friend to Edwina Norris since she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Photo: Mark Williamson.

AN Alcester cat that’s helping his owner recover from cancer has reached the finals of the 2019 National Cat Awards.

Cancer patient, Edwina Norris, aged 83 of Alcester, says her cat called JJ, who she adopted from a cat rescue, can tell when she’s having a “rough time or a bad day” with her cancer battle and responds by snuggling up to her.

“He’ll look at me and if I’m looking unwell he won’t leave me alone. He’ll cuddle up to me and won’t stop purring or licking my hand. On other days if I’m feeling better he’ll pop out and sit under a tree with my neighbour’s tabby who he likes to protect when they’re together,” Edwina said.

The heartwarming bond Edwina and JJ enjoy has put now him in the finals of the National Cat Awards organised by Cats Protection after Edwina contacted the charity to tell them her story and enter JJ into the contest.

JJ is in the category for Outstanding Rescue Cat along with two other cat finalists both based in Sussex. A gala evening of cat awards will be announced at The Savoy Hotel on Thursday 8th August and If JJ wins his category, he will also be in with a chance of being crowned National Cat of the Year.

The fact that JJ is a rescue cat who is now helping to rescue his owner with some genuine feline TLC is remarkable in itself.

“My husband Bill and I have had cats and dogs all our lives,” Edwina said. “Four years ago we adopted JJ from Evesham Cats Protection when he was aged three – he was called JJ when we had him. Before that he was at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and although he was a big cat and very handsome I think he must have had a rough time because you couldn’t hug him or get close to him. For a while he was bullied by other cats in our neighbourhood when he first came to us but after a while he started to stand up for himself  and things changed and now he only has to look at the other cats and they slink away. Even Fred – my daughter’s Border Terrier – doesn’t bother JJ anymore. It’s almost as if he’s the king of the castle now.”

Edwina will never forget that time fifteen months ago when she was dealt a devastating blow and became ill with lymphoma.

This once very active woman, who founded The Rutleigh/Norris Ballet School in 1959 and ran it for 60 years and who has devoting 35 years of her life as secretary and organiser to the Royal Academy of

Dance for the Midlands, suddenly found her world turned upside down with her cancer diagnosis.

“It was at this time that JJ’s behaviour changed. He started appearing on my bed and wouldn’t go outside to be with his friends unless he sensed I was feeling better. His caring nature shone through and he never left my side. He became my constant companion and comfort through a long and painful recovery.

I’ve had wonderful treatment from Warwick Hospital and The Rigby Unit at Stratford Hospital and hopefully the medicine is working but I have to say I honestly believe it’s JJ who’s also helping me to get through this,” Edwina said.

Next month, Edwina and her husband Bill celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary with family and friends and of course JJ who’ll be tucking into a bowl of tuna which is his favourite dish.

Cats Protection’s awards organiser Kate Bunting said: “JJ and Edwina’s story goes to show why rescue cats make such special pets. Edwina gave JJ a second chance in life and it’s wonderful to see how her care and attention has helped him thrive and become such a remarkable pet.”