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Life-changing Jeffree crowned National Cat of the Year
Jeffree helped his owner Finn cope with the sudden death of his father.

Story highlights importance of human-animal bond in times of tragedy

A cat who helped his Aspergic owner cope with the sudden death of his father has been crowned National Cat of the Year 2019.

Eight-year-old Jeffree from Coventry beat hundreds of other entries to be named overall winner in the nation’s biggest celebration of cats.

He was awarded in recognition of the life-changing effect he had on 14-year-old Finn Hackeson, who became depressed and withdrawn after his dad died in 2018.

Because Finn has Apserger syndrome he can find it difficult to communicate. But Finn’s mother Gayle Atkins said that he has been able to cope much better ever since Jeffree came into their lives.

Collecting Jeffree’s award at London’s Savoy on Thursday (8 August), Gayle said: “I’m thrilled Jeffree has won, he’s most definitely an absolute star in our household. I hope that through his story more people will see what an incredible support cats can be for both children and adults with autism.

“Cats don’t judge, they don’t rush you to talk about your feelings and they accept people the way they are – and that really is priceless.”

She continued: “I was prepared to do anything to help him and, because we’re animal lovers, we adopted Jeffree. I don’t think I really had any other options available then, he was my big hope of pulling Finn back from the brink – and he totally did it.

“To think how far Finn has come is incredible and I don’t know of any other therapy that could have had this effect. It’s all down to this amazing little black cat.”

Jeffree was chosen by a star-studded panel of judges which included Radio Times film editor, Andrew Collins, actor, Tyger Drew-Honey, and musician, Rick Wakeman. He was named overall winner after scooping first place in the Furr-ever Friends category, which celebrates the bond between children and cats.

Cats Protection’s awards organiser Kate Bunting said: “Some children face particularly challenging struggles in their lives and often the family pet can be a huge source of comfort and friendship. Finn and Jeffree’s story shows how important this bond can be and how it can help during times of tragedy.

“I’m so pleased Finn and Jeffree have found each other and I hope many other families will be inspired by their story.”

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Pair of endangered Amur leopard cubs born at Colchester Zoo

News Story 1
 Keepers at Colchester Zoo are hailing the arrival of a pair of critically endangered Amur leopard cubs.

The cubs were born to first-time parents Esra and Crispin on the 9 September. This is the first time the Zoo has bred Amur leopard cubs on-site.

Amur leopards originate from the Russian Far East and north-east China. In the wild they are threatened by climate change, habitat loss, deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade.

The cubs are said to be “looking well” and are expected to emerge from their den in a few weeks.  

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RCVS names Professor John Innes as chair of Fellowship Board

Professor John Innes has been elected chair of the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Board, replacing Professor Nick Bacon who comes to the end of his three-year term.


Professor Innes will be responsible for making sure the Fellowship progresses towards fulfilling its strategic goals, determining its ongoing strategy and objectives, and reporting to the RCVS Advancement of the Professions Committee on developments within the Fellowship.