A companion cat to a young Co Armagh girl with a a rare brain tumour has won a special award.
Faith Downey, 11, from Portadown, also has autism but she’s helped through with the help of her feline friend, Mittens.
Mittens won the “Furr-ever Friends” category in the Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards this year.
The award “celebrates tales of friendship” between cats and children. Faith’s family say he helps her cope.
Faith 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.
Elizabeth added: “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.”