Autistic boy's cat companion through to awards final

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Elliot Abery, with his pet cat ChickenImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Elliot Abery, with his pet cat Chicken, who it's been announced is a finalist in the competition's 'Furr-Ever Friends' category

A cat that helps an 11-year-old boy who has autism cope with anxiety is through to this year's National Cat Awards.

Chicken, who is companion to Elliot Abery from Thatcham, Berkshire, is one of three cats shortlisted in the "Furr-ever Friends" category.

The 10-year-old feline shares a "special bond" with her young companion, bringing calm when he is struggling, his mother said.

The winning cat will be chosen by a panel of celebrity judges on 4 August.

'Calming effect'

Elliot's mother, Jenny Abery, said: "Chicken and Elliot are just brilliant together and share a special bond which is unlike anything I've ever seen.

"When he's had a tough day or is struggling with anxiety, talking about Chicken has a calming effect on him. She just dotes on him and is never far from Elliot.

"I really hope their story will help highlight how incredible cats can be for people with autism."

The panel of celebrity judges includes businesswoman Deborah Meaden, England footballer Ellen White and comedian Bob Mortimer.

The other two contenders in the category, chosen from hundreds of other entries, are Max of Harrogate, Yorkshire, and Teddy of Braunston, near Daventry, Northamptonshire.

The annual competition is run by the charity Cats Protection.

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