Celebrating a special bond: Meet the cat who helped a young girl with autism overcome severe anxiety

Molly's family say Harry has helped her overcome anxiety Credit: ITV News Central

It’s dogs who have a reputation for being “man’s best friend” - but for one young girl from Sutton Coldfield, her feline friend gives them a run for their money.

Long-haired ginger tom Harry took a shine to Molly Cassidy from the moment he and his brother Ted were adopted into the family.

He now looks after the 12-year-old, who has autism, and her family says he has helped her battle issues of severe anxiety and social isolation.

Harry has been shortlisted in the Cats Protection’s prestigious National Cat of the Year Awards, in recognition of the special bond he and Molly share.

He cuddles her when she has an anxiety attack, and sticks by her side whenever she is in the house.

He even protects her from ‘dangers’ - attacking a hot water bottle which got too close, and pouncing on her father when he tried to wake her early one morning.

She has even been able to teach him to ‘sit’ on command.

Molly has even taught Harry to 'sit' on command Credit: ITV News Central

Nominated in the ‘Furr-ever friends’ category, Harry is up against 14 others in the race to be crowned Cat of the Year.

For Molly, she is looking forward to showing the world how amazing her best friend really is.

“I just want people to know how special animals are,” she said.

“They can help people in ways humans can’t, really. I never knew cats could be like this before - I think more people should have cats.”

The winner will be announced in a ceremony at London’s Savoy Hotel on August 3.