A CAT from Westcliff is up for a national award after helping his owner overcome serious mental health issues.

Jethro, an 11-year-old cat, is now a finalist in the Cats Protection national cat awards 2019, in recognition of how much he helped his owner overcome depression and anxiety.

Abigail Knight, 32, diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, depression and anxiety, was able to rebuild her life with Jethro by her side. After being discharged from psychiatric care at 23, she was told she may never be able to live independently.

Jethro was able to overcome health issues himself, and Abi helped get him back on his feet after he was diagnosed with feline diabetes and a brain abscess. Abi currently lives her girlfriend, Holly, and is studying at university while working as a youth worker at the same time.

Ms Knight, said: “My parents got Jethro for me after I moved into my own place, thinking he would make a good therapy pet.

“At the time, it was touch and go if I could ever really make it on my own. Having Jethro to care for meant I had a reason to get up each day, and something to focus on.

“He supported my recovery in ways no-one thought possible.

“I became his full time carer, giving him twice-daily insulin injections.

“He had been there to save me so many times so it was my turn to save him.

“Nowadays we are both happy and healthy, and loving life together.”

Jethro, who beat hundreds of other entries to take his place in the Purina better together category, will have to wait until Thursday, August 8, to find out whether he’s won.

The event, held at London’s Savoy, will be attended by several celebrities, including Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden and former England goalkeeper David Seaman.

Kate Bunting, organiser of the awards, said: “Jethro has helped Abigail lead a happy life against the odds and when Jethro was desperately ill, it was Abigail that helped him pull through.

“Their story is inspiring and shows how the bond between a cat and their owner can help overcome the toughest of challenges.”

Calum McRae, Regional Director at Purina, said: “The national cat awards is a wonderful celebration of everything we love about cats.

“We’re passionate about enriching the lives of pets and the people who love them, so we’re thrilled to support the national cat awards once again.

“All the finalists are truly inspiring and go to show the hugely positive impact cats have on people’s lives and the people who love them.”