A miracle cat who survived horrific burns has earned a national award for her remarkable spirit.
Brave Phoenix has become the first kitty from Northern Ireland to be honoured at the UK’s ‘Cat Oscars’.
She was selected from around 3,000 entries for the prestigious ‘Outstanding Rescue Cat’ award at the Cats’ Protection’s National Cat Awards which were held in London’s Savoy Hotel on Thursday.
As The Coleraine Times revealed earlier this year Phoenix got her name when she was discovered in a coal bunker in Garvagh with life-threatening burns.
The terrified, two-month-old kitten was taken to a Coleraine veterinary practice where staff thought they were going to have to put her down.
“At first we called her Sizzles because she smelled like burnt pork,” said Yvonne Wreath, the vet’s practice manager — and now Phoenix’s loving owner.
“She was in a terrible condition. Her paws were so badly burnt they were like red jelly and they were covered in maggots.
“She could not open her eyes — they were seared together with the heat. Her hair was all singed and the tips of her ears eventually fell off.”
Staff considered putting the kitten to sleep several times but she fought for survival.
Now seven-months-old, her remarkable recovery has inspired cat lovers in Coleraine — where small businesses and local people donated around £500 to fund a complicated after-care round of injections and medication.
This encouraged Yvonne to nominate the miracle moggie for the gong.
“It took a long time for her to come round,” Yvonne said. “But every time we thought maybe we cannot do any more, she did something, like opening her eyes.
“She really was a wee fighter.”
A crystal plaque with her image — presented to her new owner at the prestigious awards ceremony — now graces the mantlepiece of her home, which she shares with another cat and dog.
While Yvonne celebrated the gong with champagne, Phoenix dined on a salmon fresh from the Irish Sea.
“She’s just the same Phoenix. She’s quite happy-go-lucky,” Yvonne said. “She’s a very feisty wee cat, and very loving.