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Cat of the Year Helps 7-Year-Old with Selective Mutism

Jessi-Cat, adopted two years ago from a Manchester animal shelter, has made a world of difference in Lorcan DillonÔÇÖs life.

JaneA Kelley  |  Aug 20th 2012


Last Thursday’s National Cat Awards ceremony was a star-studded event that honored five of Britain’s most amazing cats. But Jessi-Cat stood out from her feline peers.

Two years ago, Jayne Dillon adopted a cat from cat charity Cats Protection after seeing an advertisement "on Twitter or something," as she said in a BBC interview, about how wonderful cats are. She thought a cat might be able to help her son, Lorcan, age 7, who suffers from an anxiety disorder called selective mutism, which renders him unable to express his emotions and speak to people he doesn’t know well.

That cat, who now goes by the name Jessi-Cat, has made a huge difference in Lorcan’s life.

"She is without a doubt the best friend a boy could have and has had a huge positive impact on his life," Jayne said. "In the last year alone [Lorcan] seems to be making excellent progress at school. In the past two weeks he’s started communicating with people he doesn’t know very well and even reads to one of the teachers now — something he’s never done before."

Jessi-Cat won top honors in the Best Friends category, which was judged by ex-YES keyboardist Rick Wakeman. A cat lover himself, Wakeman could easily see the positive impact the cat had had on Lorcan’s life.

When it was time to announce the Cat of the Year award, Jessi-Cat was in the running with the winners of the other four categories, Hero Cat, Outstanding Rescue Cat, Celebrity Cat, and Most Incredible Story.

Lorcan and Jayne were at the awards ceremony, but I’m sure they had no idea that Jessi-Cat would be the big winner. The family took home a prize package including a star-shaped trophy, a three-month supply of cat food, a year’s worth of cat litter donated by awards ceremony sponsor Verdo Cat Litter, and a framed photo of their beautiful feline friend.

Kate Bunting, the organizer of the awards ceremony, said, "The bond between Lorcan and Jessi-Cat is exceptional and it is truly moving to see what an incredible impact a cat can have on the whole family, particularly children."

Congratulations, Jessi-Cat, and good on ya! Thank you for being such a wonderful friend to a boy who really needs you.

Sources: BBC News, Cats Protection
Images: Screen captures from BBC News video

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