A cat named Mittens has become a bit of a celebrity in the city of Wellington, so much so that the pet is in the running to be voted New Zealander of the Year.
Mittens’ fellow nominees include Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfieeld, according to CNN.
The cat became a local celebrity in Wellington, the nation’s capital, after some residents began documenting his adventures around the city. He even has his own private Facebook page with more than 56,000 members, called The Wondrous Adventures of Mittens.
In May, Mittens was awarded the key to the city in a small “COVID-safe” ceremony with Wellington Mayor Andy Foster.
"Mittens has made his name by taking casual strolls through the busy streets of Te Aro and making himself at home wherever he pleases," a press release announcing the ceremony said. "He received a certificate outlining the honors bestowed on him, and was given a miniature key for his collar by Mayor Foster, who was dressed in full regalia for the auspicious occasion."
The special honor was originally planned for March, the release said, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Owner Silvio Bruinsma and his 4-year-old son Roelf also attended the event, held "in recognition of bringing happiness, laughter and coolness to the capital – and putting the city on the map internationally with his feline antics."
"It’s a great community story at a time when Wellington needs it most, and reflects the positivity he has brought to the people he encounters on his adventures," Bruinsma said in the release. "Mittens has captured the heart of the city and kept smiles on the faces of many of his fans during lockdown – both here and abroad."
Foster added, "The past few months have been some of the most difficult we’ve encountered, so we’re pleased to be able to provide some light relief during this challenging time."
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