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Sunderland or Merseyside? Kenny or Keano? One of the biggest transfer sagas of the season is ongoing - with two big city locations claiming ownership of world's most famous cat

There is growing controversy surrounding the future of the ‘Anfield cat’ after the animal was discovered living as a stray in a derelict house close to Liverpool’s stadium.

The cat earned instant fame when he brought the Premier League match between the Reds and Tottenham to a standstill last Monday, somehow finding his way onto the playing surface.

After entering the pitch in the 11th minute, cheering fans in the stadium and millions of worldwide TV viewers watched in amazement as he ran around the pitch, with the game having to be brought to a halt.

Spurs keeper Brad Friedel is known for having cat-like reflexes but he was unable to catch the intruder until a steward was eventually able scoop him up before instantly ejecting him from the ground, providing the animal with a stern warning about stadium rules as he sent him on his way.

As a result of his antics, the cat earned global fame. Videos of his pitch invasion circulated around the internet and a parody Twitter account has already attracted over 55,000 followers.

Liverpool fans claimed ownership of the cat and named him ‘Kenny’ in tribute to their manager and a search to find the animal was initiated. Over the weekend, Freshfield Animal Rescue received an anonymous phone tip-off on where they would be able to find the animal.  

The information proved to be accurate, with 'Kenny' discovered living it large and enjoying his fame in an unoccupied property.

"He is an absolute gentleman and loves eating chicken - which seems to be his favourite treat."
- Cattery assistant Katherine Gibbs discusses working with the cat.

He has now been taken to a temporary home at the charity's centre with the aim of an appropriate permanent residence being found for him.

Cattery assistant Katherine Gibbs, 25, who has worked closely with 'Kenny' since he was discovered, described the cat as "an absolute gentleman".

She said that despite a few scratches to his face and legs picked up from fights with other – presumably jealous - cats, he can be generally considered to be in good health. The charity’s staff also suspect the animal has been a success with the ladies since earning fame.

Katherine told Click Liverpool: "He is not an aggressive cat and we think he is a bit of a ladies man so he fought off the advances of other male cats and has wounds from fights.

"He was a little bit timid and reserved when we brought him here but he has settled in brilliantly.

"We'll get him match fit soon and he has done quite a bit of training already. He is exhausted at the moment and sleeps a lot. But he will be in full health soon after a course of antibiotics, a dental and once he is neutered.

"He is quite a laidback cat but he doesn't like dogs, like most cats. He'll be a lap cat, even though he's strong-willed, because he loves his cuddles.

"He's an absolute gentleman and loves eating chicken - which seems to be his favourite treat."

A resident who lives nearby the property where the cat was found insists 'Kenny' was already well known in the area before his Anfield exploits.

They said: “He's already famous round here and I would love to see him go to a good home. This cat has been knocking around these streets for years.

"It would be really nice if he could get a home in the area and with his new-found fame I’m sure he will have no problem. Even if he got a home over the other side of the ground I bet he could still cut across the pitch."

A twist in the 'tail'

However, there is controversy over the long-term future of the animal because a claim has been put in by a family in Sunderland, who believe he is their long-lost pet.

Christine Smith from Sunderland claims the cat in fact belongs to her family and is actually called ‘Keano’, not Kenny, after the former Black Cats boss Roy Keane.

Quite how the cat would have been able to travel 160 miles from the North East to Merseyside remains a mystery but Christine and her children believe the animal may have found its way onto a large truck destined for the Liverpool area.

She told the Sunderland Echo: “It’s not an Anfield cat, it’s a Mackem cat!

“It seems mad to think it is Keano, given how far away Liverpool is, but we are sure it is him.

“When he disappeared a month ago, we thought we had lost him. It was so strange to see him on television.

“We think it is definitely him. He has a black mark under his chin and a scratch across his nose. We don’t know how he got there. It’s amazing.

"It’s not an Anfield cat, it’s a Mackem cat! We are sure it is him - he disappeared from Sunderland a month ago." - The Smith family insist the animal belongs to them.

“All we can suggest is that our neighbour drives a lorry long distances and he might have grabbed a lift.

“Keano is a very streetwise cat and he loves to be outdoors. He would definitely be able to stand up for himself. It is mad to think it is him, but on close-up it does look like Keano.

“You do hear of pets who mysteriously turn up hundreds of miles away.”

After the match last week, Liverpool confirmed they had “released the said animal into the local area” and confirmed some stadium officials had seen it lingering outside the players’ entrance at Anfield on numerous occasions during the past few weeks.

It is presumed the crafty cat had been waiting for the perfect moment to breach stadium security and wait until a busy matchday to make a break for it.

The three-year-old animal is yet to make any public comment on the issue, having denied a number of interview requests since being discovered.

The saga continues.

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