BATTLING leukaemia is one of the hardest fights anyone will ever face at any age - but one eight-year-old girl from Newport had a very special friend to help her through.

Delilah Thompson was diagnosed with leukaemia in January 2018 and has had to endure two-and-half years of chemotherapy, several debilitating infections, and long stays in hospital.

But all the way through she has been able to rely on one thing - her cat, Doris.

Now Doris, nine, has been nominated for a special award to recognise just how valuable she has been to Delilah, who is now close to finishing her treatment.

Delilah’s mum, Amy, of Newport, said: “Delilah went through so much, and it really helped that she always had Doris to turn to.

South Wales Argus:

Doris the cat with owners Delilah and Amy Thompson. Picture: Adam Gasson/PA Wire

“When she was sad because she lost her hair or couldn’t go to friends’ birthday parties, it was Doris who made her smile.

“Delilah was stuck indoors a lot and couldn’t see friends, so playing games with Doris was so important to her.

“Doris would sit patiently, surrounded by various teddy bears, and just join in whatever Delilah wanted to do”.

Delilah’s older brother, Dylan, 14, also enjoyed spending time with Doris.

Ms Thompson said: “I would often overhear Dylan chatting away to Doris about this and that.

“It was a very difficult time for the whole family, so it was a comfort to know that Doris was there to patiently listen to him, and make sure he never felt alone”.

Doris beat hundreds of other entries to take her place as one of three contenders in the Furrever Friends category of the Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2021.

The Furrever Friends award celebrates tales of friendship between cats and children.

All four category winners will be revealed online on Thursday, August 5

A celebrity panel will then decide which cat wins National Cat of the Year, which will be announced on Thursday, August 12.

Winners in three categories will be selected by celebrity judges - comedians Bob Mortimer and Russell Kane and actress Tuppence Middleton, while the fourth category will be announced by entrepreneur Deborah Meaden following a public vote.

Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards, organised by the UK’s largest cat charity and sponsored by Purina, is a celebration of the real-life stories of heroism, loyalty and companionship in the feline world.

Cats Protection’s awards organiser Kate Bunting said: “Doris is clearly devoted to the whole family, but it’s particularly lovely to hear how her companionship and loving nature helped Delilah cope during her treatment.

“Delilah and Doris’s story shows how much joy cats can bring to a household, especially during difficult times”.

Each category winner will receive a trophy, a £100 pet store voucher, a year’s subscription to Cats Protection’s The Cat magazine and a three months’ supply of Purina cat food.