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04 August 2017

Portadown cat Mittens scoops trophy at Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards

A cat from Portadown, who helps a young girl with autism cope with a serious medical condition, has won a prestigious award at Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2017.

Black-and-white puss Mittens won the Furr-ever Friends category, celebrating tales of friendship between cats and children.

Mittens was selected as a finalist in recognition of how he helps Faith Downey, 11, cope with having autism and a rare and complex brain tumour.

Having autism means Faith has to learn to manage significant social, emotional and communication issues. Despite finding it difficult to connect with people, Faith has formed a close and loving bond with Mittens.

Faith received her award at The Savoy Hotel in London from actress and presenter Jessica-Jane Stafford,

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.”

Mum Elizabeth, of Cushenny Road, explained: “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.”

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.

Cats Protection’s awards organiser Kate Bunting said: “Mittens and Faith’s story is a truly inspiring one and just goes to show how important cats can be to family life. It’s wonderful to hear how Faith’s bond with Mittens has helped her on so many levels, from being a fun and playful friend to helping her understand the world around her.”

Faith and Mittens receive a trophy, three-month supply of PURINA® cat food, a year’s subscription to Cats Protection’s The Cat magazine and a voucher for cat goodies.

Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity and helps around 190,000 cats and kittens each year through its national network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 34 centres.

Videos of all the finalists can be found on:

Image: Mittens & Faith. Credit: Liam McBurney PA Wire

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