An FIV positive Coventry, UK feline named Jeffree could become the National Cat of the Year for the Furrever Friends award which celebrates the special bond between cats and children. The eight-year-old cat helped a 13-year-old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome deal with the untimely death of his father who passed away 12 weeks after a devastating diagnosis of lung cancer.
Gayle Atkins is a mother to Finn Hackeson, 13. Although Gayle and Finn’s dad are separated they shared joint custody with Finn staying with his mom for half the week and his dad the other half. An unexpected cancer diagnosis in February came as a blow to the family. Gayle pulled Finn out of school so he could spend as much time as possible with his dad.
Finn lost his dad on June 4 and the bereavement period has been extra hard on him. Gayle said that preparing Finn for the death of his dad was the toughest thing she ever faced as a parent. He had even left several suicide notes for his mom. Finn was going and is still attending counseling sessions to deal with his grief.
Enter Jeffree, whom Gayle found on the Coventry Cats protection website. Gayle explained how Jeffree changed Finn’s outlook on life in an interview with Metro.co.uk
‘I saw an advert for a house cat. Jeffree can’t go outside as he is FIV positive (although he loves a stroll in the garden on his leash). I knew that owning a cat would make a huge difference to Finn. When Finn got home from school on the 6th December 2018, Jeffree was waiting for him. At first, Finn thought that I had borrowed him – it took a long time to sink in that he was his. From that day to this, Finn has been a different person. He now has something to live for. Jeffree loves Finn and Finn absolutely loves Jeffree to the stars and back. ‘I strongly believe that they have saved each other.”
Finn and Jeffree are inseparable. His counselor explained the similarities of people with Asperger’s and cats. Both like being on their own, they only like being touched on their terms, they’re both picky with their food and they’re loving to people they trust.
Gayle described the bond between Jeffree and Finn in an interview with Coventry Live
“We brought Jeffree home and the difference was utterly remarkable. In an instant, Finn fell in love and once more had a purpose to life. They bonded straight away and have been inseparable ever since. Suddenly, Finn was coping again. Finn and Jeffree have an amazing connection, they belong to each other. The difference in Finn’s outlook is incredible and that’s all down to this amazing little black cat.”
Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards is organized by the UK’s largest cat charity and sponsored by Purina, and focus on real-life stories of heroism, loyalty, and companionship in the feline world. The ceremony is set for August 8 at London’s Savoy Hotel. Should Jeffree win, he’ll be up for National Cat of the Year.