They say a dog is a man’s best friend.
But a cat from Kettering proved otherwise when he helped a teenager cope after he was mugged.
Now Cisco, an 18-month old puss, is up for a national award after beating hundreds of other entries to take his place as one of three contenders in the Furrever Friends category at Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards.
Cisco was selected in recognition of how he helped Charlie Hammond recover after he was attacked in 2017, aged just 14.
Charlie’s mum Zoe said: “Charlie had already been struggling with anxiety when he was set upon while out with his friends. It was a dreadful time and affected Charlie very deeply.
“Charlie was in a very bad way, he didn’t want to leave the house and withdrew into himself. He stopped all contact with his friends and his anxiety spiralled out of control.
“I didn’t know what to do, but thought a cat may help and that’s when we got Cisco.
“I couldn’t believe the change in Charlie as soon as Cisco arrived. It was like the fog just lifted.
“Suddenly, Charlie had a sparkle back in his eye and a friend to keep him company even when he couldn’t leave the house.”
Charlie and Zoe now need to wait until August 8 when winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at London’s Savoy, an event attended by celebrities including entrepreneur Deborah Meaden, former England goalkeeper David Seaman and his wife, Dancing on Ice star Frankie Seaman.
If Cisco wins his category he will also be in with a chance of being crowned National Cat of the Year, following in the paw prints of previous winner Theo, who helped his owner Charlotte Dixon survive a potentially fatal blood clot.
Zoe said: “Cisco really is Charlie’s shadow. They’re always together, always playing or cuddling.
“Cisco has had the most remarkable effect on Charlie’s state of mind and it’s lovely to see their bond.”
Cats Protection helps about 200,000 cats and kittens each year through its national network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 36 centres.
Awards organiser Kate Bunting said: “Cats can be playful and mischievous, making them great pets for children.
“But as Cisco and Charlie’s story shows, they’re not just there for the fun times but can also help young people cope during very difficult times.”
Each category winner will receive a trophy, a £100 pet store voucher, a year’s subscription to Cats Protection’s The Cat magazine and a three months’ supply of cat food.