FRED and Barney shared a home but the story of how they ended up with Antony and family goes back the best part of a year.
After a thin, nervous and poorly black male started coming to their home in Sidcup. Antony contacted us for advice, saying: 'A cat has gradually been 'adopting' us. It comes in most mornings to be fed and some evenings. When it first came around, it was very thin and had fur missing on its back legs and back. It dribbles and has had a sore behind one ear.
'There's no sign of a collar or any love at a caring home. Sometimes it reeks of cigarette smoke so guess it goes in another house.'
A month later, he said on Facebook: 'The cat is still coming in to eat/rest whenever it can. He is always hungry and reluctant to leave when we go to bed. He has no interest in playing but loves being stroked and is quite vocal.'
As time went on, the cat - by now named Fred - regained his health and became more trusting (see right). Antony had him neutered and told us: 'Thanks for the advice and ongoing help! Fred is much happier now. Always purring and loves being stroked!!!
'He turned to us for help and we turned to Cats Protection. Without you, we would not have been able to help Fred. With your support, though, we have managed to give Fred a home.
'We have discovered how much love he has to give and we have enjoyed teaching a grown cat how to play!!'
Fast forward several months and Fred was so settled that Antony felt confident enough to adopt a feline companion.
He was taken by Peter, a timid seven-month-old who came in with his mum Sandie and two younger half-brothers after being abandoned. (Photo right shows Peter with one of his half-siblings).
'We wanted to give a very shy cat a good chance at a great new life,' said Antony.
As they already had Fred, it seemed perfect to rename the new cat Barney, his best mate in The Flintstones cartoon. Barney settled in straight away but was still very shy. 'I can't wait to watch him come out of himself and will keep you amazing people updated, said Antony. 'He's barely moved all day, just taking it all in. Just moved his food closer to him and it's going...fast!'
Shortly after, Antony said: 'He's such a good boy. He has been cleaning himself and playing with the dangly thing on elastic. Fred seems settled enough by Barney's arrival - as does Barney by Fred - although he let out a squeak when Fred tried to reach his food! He's so cute and looks like he will be mischievous when he is less nervy!
After five days, he wrote: 'Barney is enjoying his bed. He came out but moved from hiding place to hiding place. He doesn't miaow but squeaks, especially when Fred is sniffing his food!'
So the two boys have both come a long way.
'Fred didn't have a very nice life back then, but he didn't let this stop him trusting someone one last time,' said Antony. 'Fortunately for him and us, he chose us! Over the next six months, Fred learned to trust us and we enjoyed seeing him more often, feeding him, stroking him and giving him somewhere warm to sleep.
'Fred is an amazing boy. When we're home, he follows us like a dog. He knows the noise of the fridge door and that his favourite treat (turkey) is inside! From not liking to be stroked, he will sit on our laps for hours and loves being held like a baby. Thank you to everyone at CP and please share this story as it reinforces just how awesome you all are.'
UPDATE: Sadly Fred passed away in February 2015, aged about 13. He had a tough time for most of his life but his last two years were spent in a loving home, thanks to Antony and family.