14-year-old Finn Hackeson suffers from Aspergers. After the passing of his father in June last year, the teenager became increasingly depressed and withdrawn.
Jeffree lends a helping paw
Finn's mum, Gayle Atkins, watched Finn sink into "a cycle of despair and depression", but saw a noticeable improvement after the arrival of an 8-year-old moggy named Jeffree. She said:
"He could smile again...his outlook completely changed."
Gayle realised this was no ordinary kitty and decided to enter Jeffree into the 2019 Cat of the Year Awards.
The Cats Protection charity sponsors the event, and this year's award ceremony was held at the swanky Savoy hotel in London. The competition was tough, but Jeffree managed to fend off hundreds of other kitties to get his paws on the coveted 'Cat of the Year' trophy.
Introducing the 2019 Cat of the Year, Jeffree, 8, from Coventry. Jeffree's owner Finn, 14, has Asperger's and was devastated by the sudden death of his father. "Since Jeffree's been in my life, I've had more of a will to live." he says. #NationalCatAwards pic.twitter.com/cNotQVlwZT— Katie Grant (@kt_grant) August 8, 2019
British sitcom star Tyger Drew-Honey sat on the judging panel. When asked about the decision to crown Jeffree as the UK's best cat, he said:
"Jeffree was recognised in honour of the life-changing effect he had on Finn".
"Finn has had an incredibly tough time and I can really see the difference Jeffree is making to him."
And while Jeffree certainly deserves all the praise, the awards are a chance for all of us to remember just how special our cats really are:
"Cats don't judge, they don't rush you to talk about your feelings, and they accept people the way they are - and that is priceless," said Gayle Atkins.
Will Jeffree return next year to defend his crown?
Cats Protection's awards organiser Kate Bunting paid her own moving tribute. She 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 has found each other."
So are we! Well done, Jeffree. Keep up the good work!