By Laura Moss, Mother Nature Network
Lorcan Dillon snuggling Jessi-cat.
Young Lorcan Dillon has never told his parents that he loves them, but with the help of his best friend, Jessi-Cat, this 7-year-old has been making strides toward expressing his emotions.
Lorcan has selective mutism, an anxiety disorder that makes it difficult for him to speak in social situations or tell even his family how he feels. The boy, who lives in Davyhulme in the U.K., struggles with communication on a daily basis and rarely speaks to his teachers or classmates.
However, Lorcan's behavior began to change when his mother got him a cream Birman named Jessi-Cat two years ago. The two quickly became inseparable.
"The reason I got Jessi-Cat is because pets and cats in particular are very good with children with special needs," Lorcan's mom, Jayne Dillon, said in an interview with Cats Protection, a British feline welfare agency.
According to his mother, Lorcan has made progress in overcoming his disability. In the past few weeks he's begun speaking to people he doesn't know very well and has even been reading to one of his teachers - something he's never done before.
Dillon says she has Jessi-Cat to thank for her son's improvements.
"He does speak normally at home. He does not have selective mutism with us at all in the house, but he does not express his emotions. He would not say 'I love you mummy.' He just does not do it. But with the cat he can cuddle her, he can stroke her, he can talk to her. And he does say, 'I love you Jessi-Cat,' which is really nice. It is a way for him to express emotions which otherwise he would not be able to do."
Jessi-Cat's role in Lorcan's life hasn't gone unnoticed. Lorcan's kitty companion is currently one of the Best Friends category finalists in the Cats Protection National Cat Awards.
Check out a video of Lorcan and Jessi-Cat here.