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Football ‘kit’: footie-loving kitten has new home as a goal

A homeless kitten named after footballer Lionel Messi is living up to his name by showing a surprising interest in the World Cup. The feline Lionel has demonstrated his skills by avidly chasing the ball around the television screen during matches.


The four-month-old kitten was found as a stray and brought to the Blue Cross rehoming centre in Southampton in a sorry state, lame in one leg. At the centre, Lionel received treatment for an infection in his leg and began to make a good recovery.


Once he was feeling better, Blue Cross Rehoming Supervisor Laura Boyle, who was fostering him at home, realised that Lionel had a shared interest with his famous namesake. When she switched on the TV to enjoy a World cup match one evening, she realised that there was no stopping the lively kitten getting involved in every game, tirelessly following the ball around the screen.


Laura said: “Lionel was in quite a bad way when he arrived, so it’s lovely to see him so full of beans now. We had no idea he would enjoy the football quite so much when we named him after a player, but it has turned out to suit him perfectly – he’s glued to the screen during every match!”


Lionel is now ready for a permanent new home and hopes to find owners who are as keen on sport as he is.


Watch the video of Lionel enjoying the Belgium v USA match here:


So far this year, Blue Cross in Southampton has found homes for 300 cats, including over 70 kittens, and is funded entirely by public donations. To find out more about Lionel and all the other pets currently looking for happy new homes, visit or contact the centre on 0300 777 1530.




Notes to Editors


  • Photos and video of Lionel available.
  • The Blue Cross Southampton pet rehoming centre opened in 1991 and successfully rehomes hundreds of cats and dogs every year, serving communities across Hampshire. In 2009 a new welfare veterinary clinic opened to treat the pets of owners on a low income who live in postcode areas SO18, SO19 and SO30.
  • To contact the centre please call 0300 777 1530. The address is Blue Cross animal rehoming centre, Bubb Lane, West End, Southampton, Hants SO30 2HL. The centre is open daily between 11.00am and 4.00pm, Sundays and Bank Holidays from 11.00am until 2.00pm, closed on Thursdays.
  • Blue Cross has been dedicated to helping poorly, injured and abandoned pets for over 100 years. We opened the world’s first animal hospital in 1906 and since then our doors have never closed to sick and homeless animals.
  • Today we run 12 rehoming centres, a network of volunteer foster carers and four animal hospitals across the UK, which provide treatment and seek happy homes for thousands of cats, dogs, small pets and horses every year.
  • Blue Cross actively campaigns to improve all aspects of animal welfare, working with the government, schools and others to improve the lives of pets and their owners. For more information, please visit

 Media contact


Sophia Khan, Media Officer: [email protected] / [email protected]