Cat crowned king of village to be honoured on 10th birthday

A village is throwing throw a birthday party for a ginger cat who has become famous for making a regular appearance at local shops.

Wilbur was originally owned by Cathy Applebee, a resident of Ruddington near Nottingham , but he decided to break out on his own when she took in two rescue kittens a few years ago. Now Wilbur, known as the King of Ruddington, has become a local celebrity with his own Facebook and Instagram pages as he approaches his 10th birthday on July 7.

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Ms Applebee told the Press Association: “He comes home but he doesn't stay in the home because he doesn't like the kittens.

“So the fact that the community's embraced him in such a lovely way, because he is such a character, is lovely because it means, especially now he's got his Facebook page, I can see what he's up to.”

To stay away from the kittens, Wilbur, who Ms Applebee describes as “bold” and “very friendly”, spends his time in shops and businesses around the village instead.

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“He'll just take himself in to any shop, anywhere,” she said. “There was one time when the doctor's receptionist came back and he was sitting on her chair.

“When there was a gym in the village he'd go and someone sent me a picture of him on the equipment in the gym.”

Among his favourite haunts are a local hairdresser, two pubs and the Nottingham Building Society.
Lesley Harper, who works in the building society, said he has been a big hit with their customers. “He's been a regular visitor for most of this year,” she told the Press Association. “He's a very laidback chappie, happy for customers and villagers young and older to pop in and say hello.”

She also said he is a cat of expensive tastes who “likes his gourmet cat food”.

Sarah Godfrey, who is organising Wilbur’s party, told the Press Association: “Wilbur is part of our lives, as he is for everyone who lives in the village.” People attending the event at the Frame Breakers pub are being encouraged to wear feline fancy dress and there are expected to be cat-themed drinks available.
Around 100 people have so far registered their interest in the event on 14 July but Ms Godfrey says she has no idea how many will attend.

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“I think people just love how weird it is,” she said. “It could be a couple of hundred – it could be 10, but I doubt it. I think it will be really weird in a good way.”

The event will also raise money for local charities.

While organisers are hopeful Wilbur will put in an appearance at a venue which is one of his two favoured pubs in the village along with the Red Lion, there is no guarantee he will show up.
Nobody knows that better than Ms Applebee, who has had to come to terms with the new living arrangements since Wilbur struck out on his own.

“I was really sad because I love him so much,” she said. “But ultimately he's his own character and his own mind and as long as I know he's OK, and he's being fed...”

She added: “Obviously I still really care about him but a cat's a cat. He's always been a roamer.”

Press Association