By Liz Hull
Even simple tasks used to be fraught with difficulty for Fraser Booth.
The 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, he had not had the easiest start to life.
Before Billy the stray cat came along, four-year-old Fraser, who is autistic, struggled with simple tasks
Now, whether it’s playtime, storytime or bedtime, Billy is there to offer a reassuring paw.
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.
‘He always appears when Fraser is getting upset and offers his head close to Fraser’s to reassure him and recently, when Fraser was poorly, Billy sat on his lap all day.
‘They say animals can sense things, but Billy seems to know before anybody else if Fraser is going to get upset.’
Best friends: Billy the stray cat had not had the easiest start to life but he and Fraser, aged four, have found a special companionship in each other
Since their first meeting, Fraser and Billy have been inseparable ¿ and the moggy has helped bring the little boy out of his shellMrs 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.’
Fraser was diagnosed with autism when he was 18 months old after Mrs Booth, 38, and her electrician husband, Chris, 43, noticed he was not developing as quickly as other children his age.
‘It was glaringly obvious to me early on that something was wrong,’ Mrs Booth said. ‘Fraser would cry all the time and wouldn’t respond to me or any toys we put in front of him.’
Since his diagnosis, Fraser has been undergoing therapy. While he is able to talk to his parents and run around like other children of his age, he still struggles to cope with routine tasks, resulting in temper tantrums and tears.
‘Every day life can be a challenge for Fraser because ordinary tasks can be extremely difficult for him,’ added Mrs Booth, who lives on the Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire.
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.'
Whether he's needed for a cuddle or acting as a prop for a book, Billy is happy to be there for Fraser
'Billy has made a complete difference to our family life, he's taken away the stress, he's added happiness and an air of calm, he's just been amazing.'
‘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.’
‘Billy has made a complete difference to our family life, he’s taken away the stress, he’s added happiness and an air of calm, he’s just been amazing.
‘We gave a donation of around £30 to the charity but for us he is priceless. He makes Fraser so happy all the time.’
To make a donation to the charity or to adopt a cat go to the Cats Protection website by clicking here.