Tales of friendship between children and cats.
Winner - Mittens
Eleven-year-old Faith Downey is a little girl learning to live with big issues. Faith has autism, which means she has to cope with significant social, emotional and communication issues. Earlier this year, she was also diagnosed with a rare and complex brain tumour that doctors are still determining how to treat. Faith finds it difficult to connect with people, yet has formed an incredible bond with Mittens.
Through Mittens, Faith is able to understand and express her feelings better, and enjoy a deep, unconditional friendship. Her relationship with Mittens has also helped Faith understand the world around her, and she’s organised fundraising events to help Cats Protection. Mum Elizabeth said: “The difference in Faith’s emotional state after spending time with Mittens is remarkable, and no professional or family member can create such a positive change."
Faith received her award at The Savoy Hotel in London from actress and presenter Jessica-Jane Stafford.
Mum Elizabeth explained: “Through Mittens, Faith has learnt so many new skills but also has a constant, reliable and fun friend by her side. He really is a one in a million and we all love him to bits. We’re so delighted that the judges saw what a difference our cat makes to us.”
Jessica-Jane Stafford, who judged the category, said: “As a cat lover, it was very difficult for me to pick a winner but I finally decided on Mittens. The bond between Faith and Mittens is very special and Mittens has had a huge impact on Faith's mood and well-being. They really are best friends.”
The world can be a lonely and confusing place for twelve-year-old Molly, who has autism and suffers with severe anxiety. Only able to attend school part-time, she finds it difficult to share emotions with people, even those closest to her. Yet she has formed a remarkable bond with four-year-old Harry, who helps her cope with the difficulties and challenges of growing up with autism.
The pair share such a deep bond that Molly has even been able to teach Harry tricks and they spend most of their time together. Mum Jeanette explained: “I don’t think she would be the person she is now without him, and I believe Harry has helped her in a way no person could ever.”
Growing up has not always been easy for Nell Talbot, 14, who suffers with obsessive compulsive disorder as well as severe anxiety and depression. But with her faithful friend Percy by her side, Nell has found a way to cope through the most challenging of times. Whether he’s raising a smile with his playful antics or snuggling in for a cuddle, Percy provides a constant source of comfort for Nell.
Mum Juliet said: “Nell has been through some very difficult times, but Percy has really helped her through. The amount of tears he has stopped flowing and the number of cuddles they have shared is quite extraordinary.”