Published: 00:00, 15 June 2016
| Updated: 10:08, 15 June 2016
A four-year-old cat who helped his owner beat a near life-ruining alcohol addiction is up for a national award.
New Romney puss Frank, who lives with his owner Robin Barry in Dymchurch Road, could scoop the Cats Protection’s National Cat Award 2016 after he was made a finalist.
Frank beat hundreds of other cats and takes his place as one of three in the better together category, celebrating the special bond between the pets and their owners.
Mr Barry, 38, said: “I was in a rehabilitation unit and in a very bad way when my wife Helen decided to get this kitten.
“I’m the first to admit I was always more of a dog person and couldn’t see what the fuss was about at first.
“But when I got home and met Frank, my heart just melted.
'When I got home and met Frank, my heart just melted' - Owner, Robin Barry
“He became my number one supporter, following me about and being a constant companion.
“I was on a lot of medication and was very vulnerable and lost but Frank never left my side.
“With his support, I came through the other side.”
Mr Barry returned the favour two years later when Frank became poorly with a twisted gut.
“We had no insurance and the vet’s bill was going to be £2,000,” he said.
“My wife and I had been saving for a holiday with all the money I had not spent on alcohol.
“But there was never any question of what we should do – Frank saved my life and we were able to save his by paying for the best possible care.
“We would never be without him and I feel lucky every day to have such an amazing cat by my side.”
The couple now face a nail-biting wait to the awards ceremony on Thursday, August 4 at The Savoy in London, an event made possible by pet food firm Purina, the sponsor.
If Frank wins his category, he will also be in with a chance of being crowned National Cat of the Year, following in the paw prints of previous winner Nelson, a one-eyed former stray from County Durham, who survived near-drowning and 15 years living rough.
Cats Protection’s awards organiser Kate Bunting said: “Frank and Robin clearly have a close bond and it’s truly touching to hear how they have both helped each other.
"Frank is a great example of the loyalty, companionship and joy that cats bring to the lives of their owners.”
A Purina spokesman said: “We are delighted to celebrate our long- standing support of Cats Protection and the amazing work it does by once again sponsoring its National Cat Awards.”