Lorcan Dillon suffers from selective mutism, an anxiety disorder that makes it very difficult for him to verbally communicate with strangers and to express how he feels. However, thanks to the unconditional love and support of one very patient kitty named Jessi-Cat, the seven-year-old has gained a world of confidence, and is now thriving.
In a recent BBC interview, during which the boy can be seen hugging and cuddling on the extremely beautiful and tolerant feline, Lorcan's mother Jayne explains how the two have formed a special bond that has allowed the boy to come out of his shell.
Cats Protection, the UK charity dedicated to rescuing and rehoming cats and educating the public about cat welfare, held their their National Cat Awards in London earlier this week, where Jessi-Cat was named National Cat of the Year 2012 for her extraordinary role in the boy's life.
Lorcan and Jayne were on hand at the ceremony to accept the purr-stigious prize, which included a star shaped trophy, three months’ supply of cat food, a year's supply of Verdo Cat Litter, and a framed photograph of Jessi-Cat.
“He does not express his emotions, he would not say 'I love you Mummy', he just doesn't do it," Dillon tells Cats Protection. "But with the cat he can cuddle her, he can stroke her, he can talk to her and he can say 'I love you Jessi-Cat.'"
“She is without a doubt the best friend a boy could have and has had a huge positive impact on his life. We’ve had her for a couple of years and in the last year alone he 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.”
Other award winners included Simon's Cat as Favorite Celebrity Cat, and a cat named Charley who was named Hero Cat for saving his owner's life after she collapsed during a diabetic attack in the middle of the night.
Lorcan and Jessi-Cat
*The original video included in this post had difficulty loading, so I've replaced it with the Cats Protection video. To see Jayne and Lorcan's most recent BBC interview, click here.