Even simple tasks used to be fraught with difficulty for Fraser Booth.
A four-year-old, who is autistic, easily became overwhelmed by everyday events, resulting in tears and temper tantrums.
Then Billy the stray cat came along. Abandoned by his previous owner and rescued from a boarded-up council house by a charity…
But since their first meeting, Fraser and Billy have been inseparable – and the moggy has helped bring the little boy out of his shell.
And he is the first to sense when Fraser is getting frustrated, calming him down with a cuddle or comforting purr.
Fraser’s mother Louise said: ‘If Fraser is around or playing in the garden, Billy is never far away. It is like he is watching Fraser and calming his behaviour.
Mrs Booth, who is a full-time mother to Fraser and his 15-month-old sister Pippa, added: ‘It sounds crackers, but it is like Billy is Fraser’s guardian. Their relationship is something really special.’
‘For example, if he sees a character on television he doesn’t like, or if we try to get him out of the bath and he doesn’t want to, there is usually a meltdown.’
But the arrival of Billy from a Cats Protection shelter 12 months ago has changed Fraser’s behaviour.
‘The first time we took Fraser to see Billy, the cat went straight to him,’ Mrs Booth added. ‘Fraser sat down on the floor and Billy laid across him with his paws on his legs and just started purring. Fraser said “This is our cat, he can come live with us,” and that was that.’