A ONE-EYED cat is “feline” fantastic after being named puss of the year.
Nelson, from Seaham, has taken the trophy in the Cats Protection’s National Cat of the Year Awards 2014.
The former stray wowed the judges with his amazing story of surviving near-drowning and 15 years of living rough on the docks at Seaham Harbour.
Twenty-year-old Nelson was named overall National Cat of The Year, after winning the Most Incredible Story category at an awards ceremony at The Savoy in London.
The plucky older gent has used up a fair share of his nine lives during an eventful life, which began when he was callously thrown into the sea in a sack with his littermates and plucked to safety by a fisherman.
Having lost an eye, dodged dog attacks and endured a gang throwing rocks at him, Nelson was eventually scared away from his home on the docks when heavy machinery was brought in to start building work on a new marina.
However, he hit the jackpot in 2009 when Andrea Huntley-Crow and her husband Dave, heard about his eventful life and gave him a new home in Seaton.
Nelson’s woes didn’t stop there. In January this year he was diagnosed with an inoperable heart tumour, but despite a bleak prognosis he has amazed vets with his zest for life. A panel of celebrity judges, including model Lucy Pinder, actress Lesley Joseph and newsreader Jan Leeming, decided Nelson should be crowned the nation’s top cat.
Nelson beat four other finalists to take the top prize – pub cat Legz, who has helped bring communities together, loyal Cleo, who stayed by her owner’s side when he suffered a heart attack, caring puss Elias, who helps his owner break free from bouts of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Mr Chips, who has helped his owner cope with a serious medical condition.
Proud owner Andrea was at the star-studded ceremony at The Savoy in London to pick up Nelson’s category and overall winner’s trophies, as well as a three-month supply of cat food courtesy of Purina.
She said: “We used to visit the harbour and the fisherman would tell us all about his tough life.
“He had some shelter in the fisherman’s cabin, but certainly none of the comforts of a home.
“He had to contend with a lot, the threat of dog attacks and gangs that threw rocks at him, which may be how he lost his eye, not to mention the bitterly cold winters.
“To do that for 15 years is quite something, and we’re just pleased he now finally has the warm, loving home he deserves.”