Boy with anxiety disorder who can't say 'I love you' taught to show his emotions – by his cat
Lorcan suffers from an anxiety disorder known as selective mutism



14:53 GMT, 18 July 2012

A little boy with a form of mutism who struggles to express himself has been 'taught' to show his emotions – by his pet cat.

Lorcan Dillon, 7, suffers from an anxiety condition that leaves him virtually unable to communicate with teachers and classmates at school. He also find it difficult to express love and affection towards his family.

But he turned a corner after his mother Jayne brought a cream Birman called Jessi-cat into their home in Davyhulme, Greater Manchester.

Best of friends: Lorcan with Jessi-Cat

Best of friends: Lorcan with Jessi-Cat

The pair have become inseparable over the past two years and Lorcan is now able to say 'I love you' for the first time.

Lorcan's mother Jayne Dillon, 44, a former hospital midwife said: 'Jessi-Cat has made a huge difference to Lorcan's 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.

'The bond between Lorcan and Jessi-Cat is so touching as he's able to show physical affection to her which he doesn't like doing with people – even me. She's such a delightful, responsive cat and he hugs and kisses her all the time.'

Jayne said the bond between her son and cat was 'so touching'

Jayne said the bond between her son and cat was 'so touching'

Playtime: Jessi-Cat is a finalist for the Cats Protection's National Awards 2012

Playtime: Jessi-Cat is a finalist for the Cats Protection's National Awards 2012 for helping Lorcan

She added: 'The reason why we have got Jessi-Cat is because pets and cats in particular I think are very good with children with special needs or autism or anything like that, and it's a way for Lorcan to communicate.

'Lorcan does speak at home with his family, but still finds it hard to show his emotions to them – he can't say “I love you” to his mum.

'He does speak normally at home – he doesn't have selective mutism with us at all in the house.

'But he doesn't express his emotions – he would not say 'I love you mummy' or anything like that but with the cat he can cuddle her and stroke her and talk to her and he does say 'I love you Jessi-Cat' which is really nice.

'It is a way for him to express his emotions that otherwise he wouldn't be able to do.'

Seven-year-old Lorcan Dillon sufferers from Selective Mutism – a condition that means he finds it difficult to communicate with people, leaving him feeling lonely and affecting his confidence. It is said to affect around one in 1,000 children.

Jayne added: 'Lorcan was diagnosed when he started nursery school at three and a half. The staff were concerned that he wouldn't speak to any of the adults and most of the children.

'Lorcan can find it very hard to express himself yet he can be himself around Jessi-Cat and finds it very easy to talk to her.

'She is always interested in what he's doing and that unconditional love she has for him has been a huge boost to his confidence.

Jessi-Cat shows unconditional love for Lorcan

Jessi-Cat shows unconditional love for Lorcan

Jayne said her son and cat were rarely apart

Jayne said her son and cat were rarely apart

'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.

'She is without a doubt the best friend a boy could have and has made a huge positive impact in his life.'

The pair are rarely apart and this year both Lorcan and the Cream Birman have been shortlisted in the Best Friends category in the Cats Protection National Cat Awards 2012.

Jessi-Cat is down to the last three in the Best Friends category and if she wins she'll be in with a chance of scooping the prestigious title of National Cat of the Year.

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

She said: 'We had entries from across the length and breadth of the country and it was a tough job to narrow them down.

'Each and every entry we received told a tale about why cats have such a special place in people's hearts – sometimes heart-rending, sometimes funny and often quite amazing!

'We think all cats are special, but Jessi-Cat especially deserved a place in the final for showing what an incredible impact cats have on the lives of people of all ages.'