Coventry & Warwickshire

'Life-changing' Coventry feline wins top cat award

Jeffree and Finn Image copyright Cats Protection
Image caption Finn with his cat Jeffree who has changed his outlook on life

A "life-changing" cat who helped a teenager with Asperger syndrome cope with the sudden death of his father has been named National Cat of the Year.

Jeffree, an eight-year-old moggie from Coventry, beat hundreds of other feline competitors to bag the top cat award.

He received the honour for helping 14-year-old Finn Hackeson who became "depressed and withdrawn" in June 2018.

Mum Gayle Atkins said she hopes Jeffree's win shows what "an incredible support cats can be".

The award ceremony, run by charity Cats Protection, was held at the Savoy Hotel in London earlier.

Image copyright Gayle Atkins
Image caption Finn became "locked in a cycle of despair" after the death of his father, his mum said

In a statement, the charity said: "Jeffree was recognised in honour of the life-changing effect he had on Finn".

Category judge, actor Tyger Drew-Honey, said: "Finn has had an incredibly tough time and I can really see the difference Jeffree is making to him."

Following the death of his father just weeks after a cancer diagnosis, Finn became "locked in a cycle of despair and depression", but as soon as he saw and adopted the cat "the fog lifted," Ms Atkins said.

"He could smile again... his outlook completely changed."

"I hope that through his story more people will see what an incredible support cats can be for both children and adults with autism.

"Cats don't judge, they don't rush you to talk about your feelings and they accept people the way they are - and that really is priceless," Mrs Atkins added.

Image copyright Cats Protection
Image caption Judges said they could see the difference Jeffree was making on Finn

Cats Protection's awards organiser Kate Bunting said: "Finn and Jeffree's story shows how important this bond can be and how it can help during times of tragedy.

"I'm so pleased Finn and Jeffree have found each other."

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