A Portadown cat, called Mittens has won a prestigious award at the Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2017, held recently.
His owner Faith Downey (11) suffers from autism and has a rare and complex brain tumour.
The black and white cat won the Furr-ever Friends category, celebrating tales of friendship between cats and children.
He was selected as a finalist, in recognition of how he helps Faith deal with her condition. She has to learn to manage significant social, emotional and communication issues. Despite finding it difficult to connect with people, Faith formed a close and loving bond with Mittens.
Faith’s mum Elizabeth, from Cushenny Road, said: “Mittens really deserves this award for the support and friendship he gives to Faith. Living with autism can be very hard and Faith faces lots of challenges.
“Faith finds it difficult to interact with people, yet has formed an amazing bond with Mittens. When she’s sad, Mittens will curl up on her and he is never bothered by her meltdowns.
“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 has also learnt to respond to Mittens’ body language, which is a remarkable skill for an autistic child.
“Earlier this year, she was also found to have a brain tumour, and doctors are still deciding how to treat this.
“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.“
Faith received her award at The Savoy Hotel in London from actress and presenter, Jessica-Jane Stafford who 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.”
Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards, organised by the UK’s largest cat charity and sponsored by PURINA®, is an annual celebration of the real-life stories of heroism, loyalty and companionship in the feline world.
Faith and Mittens received a trophy, three-month supply of cat food, a years subscription to The Cat magazine and a voucher for goodies.