Lorcan Dillon, Child With Selective Mutism, Learns To Speak Thanks To Family Pet Jessi-Cat. (source: Hffingtonpost.co.uk)

A family puss has been named National Cat of the Year, thanks for his role in enabling a little boy with an anxiety disorder to utter the words "I love you". The two-year-old feline, known as Jessi-Cat, was honoured at the Cats Protection's National Cat Awards ceremony on Thursday.

Jessi-Cat is a constant companion to seven-year-old Lorcan Dillon, who has selective mutism, a condition which affects his ability to speak and express himself and often leaves him feeling isolated and lonely.

jessicat and lorcan

Forever friends: Lorcan Dillon and Jessi-Cat

Thanks to Jessi-Cat, Lorcan is finally able to say “I love you” and has learnt ways to share his emotions when he finds it difficult to speak to people.

The Cats Protection's National Cat Awards, sponsored by Verdo, are the UK's largest celebration of real-life stories of companionship, bravery and survival in the feline world.
At a ceremony at London's Savoy Hotel, winners were chosen in five categories – Best Friends, Hero Cat, Most Incredible Story, Outstanding Rescue Cat and Celebrity Cat.

Jessi-Cat was crowned overall winner after first winning the Best Friends category, chosen by celebrity judge, ex-YES keyboardist and star of Grumpy Old Men Rick Wakeman.

Rick said: “All three cats have been a huge support to their owners, but Jessi-Cat is my winner. The bond between Jessi-Cat and Lorcan is incredible and it has clearly had a hugely positive impact on Lorcan’s home and school life. Jessi-Cat helps Lorcan to communicate and express emotions that ordinarily Lorcan wouldn’t be able to do.”


Jessi-Cat won the Best Friends category of the competition

Other celebrity judges attending the ceremony – hosted by 'Voice of the Balls' on BBC1’s National Lottery TV programmes Alan Dedicoat – were comedian Ed Byrne, model Lucy Pinder and ex-BBC newsreader Jan Leeming.

Lorcan and his mother Jayne Dillon, 44, of Davyhulme, Greater Manchester, were at the awards ceremony to accept Jessi-Cat's prizes – 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.
She said: “Lorcan is able to connect love to Jessi-Cat, something he can't do with people and she's been a great support to him when things have been really hard.

“He does not express his emotions, he would not say 'I love you Mummy', he just doesn't do it. 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 category winners were:

Charley: Charley, of Haltwhistle, Northumberland, won the Hero Cat category after saving the day when owner Susan Marsh-Armstrong, 47, collapsed during a diabetic attack in the middle of the night. As Susan's life hung in the balance, quick-thinking Charley repeatedly patted her husband Kevin on the face until he woke and then led him to the bathroom where he discovered Susan unconscious on the floor and administered a glucose injection to bring her round.

William: William, of Chorley, Lancashire, won the Most Incredible Story category after making a gruelling half-a-mile journey home on two legs after his back legs were horrifically injured in a dog attack. Despite having one leg amputated the brave puss has since made a full recovery.

Phoenix: Phoenix, of Ballymoney, County Antrim, won the Outstanding Rescue Cat category after she made an extraordinary recovery from horrific burns. She was just a few weeks old when she was found in a coal bunker with hideous injuries but survived against the odds.

Simon's Cat: Scooping the award for the nation's favourite Celebrity Cat – chosen in a public vote on Cats Protection's Facebook page – was Simon's Cat, the animated moggy made famous worldwide in Simon Tofield's books and online cartoons.

According to Kate Bunting, the Awards organiser at Cats Protection, Jessi-Cat's story was an inspiring one.

She said: “The bond between Lorcan and Jessi-Cat is exceptional and it is truly moving to see what an incredible impact a cat can have on the whole family, particularly children.

“We hear many amazing stories of how cats have transformed people's lives, from elderly people living alone to children like Lorcan.

“There is no doubt that cats can have an incredible calming effect and their intuition, sensitivity and unconditional love can have an incredible impact on their owners.”

Jessi-Cat follows in the paw prints of a long line of feline heroes honoured by Cats Protection. Previous winners have included "moggy midwife" Marmite who loyally stuck by his owner's side during a difficult pregnancy and labour, and Tee Cee who became a lifeline to his epileptic owner with his ability to detect when he was about to have a seizure.

Cats Protection has around 6,200 cats and kittens in its care at any one time and rehomes and reunites over 48,000 every year.


Japanese opens cat cafe in Vienna

Source: Japan Times

VIENNA — Austria's first cat cafe opened Friday in Vienna, which boasts more than 300 years of cafe culture, with the Japanese owner and five cats welcoming customers who flocked to the shop.
News photo

Customers, many of them young women, filled the 50-seat cafe called Neko (cat), where they stroked the cats and took pictures of them as the animals walked around or took a nap. 

"I wanted to open a cafe that has a Japanese touch and which does not exist in Austria," said Takako Ishimitsu, the 47-year-old owner from Gifu Prefecture who has lived in the Austrian capital for more than 20 years. 

After going through negotiations with officials at Vienna City Hall who were concerned about hygiene issues, Ishimitsu was finally able to open the cafe with five cats she got from a local humane society. 

"There are cat lovers in any country. I think (the cat cafe) will be well-received in Vienna as well," she said.
Cat cafes, which are said to have originated in Taiwan, have become popular in Japan in recent years.


Miracle moggie wins prestigious award at cat ceremony.

Phoenix was just a few weeks old when she was found in a coal bunker with horrific burns 
(source: BBC
Phoenix was just a few weeks old when she was found in a coal bunker with horrific burns.

A miracle moggie from Ballymoney in County Antrim has won a prestigious title at the Cats' Protection's National Cat Awards in London.

Phoenix, a tabby cat, was just a few weeks old when she was found in a coal bunker with horrific burns. She was taken to a Coleraine vets, where, after three months of round-the-clock-care, Phoenix pulled through. Now the feline phenomenon has won the title of Outstanding Rescue Cat at the Cats' Protection's National Cat Awards in London.Yvonne Wreath, who is the vet practice manager, is now Phoenix's owner.

"She was such a wee fighter," she said. "We gave her lots of pain relief and we gave her a chance and I'm so glad we did. Phoenix had appalling injuries when she was discovered. Her paws resembled red jelly and were covered in maggots; she could not open her eyes and her face was badly burnt. Staff initially thought they would have to put her to sleep but Yvonne said the tiny four-week-old kitten seemed so determined to survive that they began treatment.

Phoenix was one of 15 felines selected as a finalist in the Outstanding Rescue Cat category. She was chosen as winner by the celebrity judge and former newsreader, Jan Leeming. Now in their sixth year, the Cats Protection's National Cat Awards are the UK's biggest celebration of the real-life stories of companionship, bravery and survival among the UK's 10 million cats. The awards were previously known as the Rescue Cat Awards and are often dubbed the 'Feline Oscars'.



Man Faces Animal Cruelty Charge After Abandoning Dog on Colorado Mountain 

A 29-year-old man is expected to face a charge of animal cruelty after he abandoned his dog on a Colorado mountain, the Clear Creek Sheriff's Office officials said Friday. Anthony Joseph Ortolani told The Denver Channel earlier that he was forced to leave his German shepherd named Missy on the snow-capped peaks of Mount Bierstadt Aug. 5, when a storm moved in and he became worried for the safety of a younger hiker who was with him. He said his dog's feet were cut up from walking on sharp rocks and it could no longer walk. ABC News' previous efforts to reach Ortolani were unsuccessful.

Scott Washburn and his wife, Amanda, found Missy Aug. 11, while they were on a leisurely hike up Mount Bierstadt. "We were hiking to this ridge and we got off course and I was a little ahead of my wife," he said. "She called out to me and said, 'Hey I found a dog,' and figured I misheard her 'cause there was no way a dog was where we were."

Washburn and his wife were incredulous at how this dog, tucked into a tiny nook between rocks, could have ended up where it was. The whimpering dog was, as Washburn said, "in awful shape." He was convinced it would have died if left without food or water for much longer. The couple tried to coax the dog up out of the rocks and down the mountain but it was clear the dog was too injured and weak to move. "We knew we weren't going to be able to get her out by herself," said Washburn. "Her paws were completely raw and her elbows were torn up." Washburn got together a group of eight volunteers and the group headed back up the mountain that Monday morning. The group found the dog with all of its wounds Washburn had tried to bandage reopened. The rocks around the dog were covered in blood, and the dog was back cowering beneath the surrounding rocks.

The group of eight hikers traveled through a full-blown snowstorm that broke out during their hike. Eventually, after a nine-hour rescue mission, the group successfully managed to bring back the broken and bruised dog in a hiker's oversized backpack. Upon their return, the hikers entrusted the dog to a local vet, who told Washburn that it was "the miracle dog of the century, and although she was severely dehydrated she has, miraculously, no long-term or permanent damage."

"I just don't think that his actions have shown that he is a responsible dog owner," Washburn said. "We understand that he had to leave her there. My wife and I did the same thing. But we ended up going back for her, and we went to some pretty extreme lengths to do so. In my opinion, that is not a responsible dog owner, who doesn't really care about her."

Washburn and his wife, as well as other members of the rescue team, would now like to adopt Missy, Washburn said. But Ortolani is asking for his dog back. Clear Creek County Sheriff's Sgt. Rick Safe said "the dog was basically abandoned up there." "He [Ortolani] made no initial attempt. After three days, he thought the dog was deceased so he made no attempts to reclaim the dog," Page said. The sheriff's department also has a rescue team, and other hikers told them about Missy being stranded on Mount Bierstadt during the weekend. However, the rescue team was unable to respond because it is solely reserved for human rescues.

"We can't specifically send a rescue effort for a dog," Safe said. "We have a designated rescue team. In the last two weeks we have had six rescues, one a day on the weekends, for people. It is tough terrain out there."