Along came Polly: How a 14-year-old boy with Asperger’s found a friend in his Battersea cat

Almost 6,000 animals from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home are rehomed every year to loving new homes. Sometimes though it’s not just the dogs and cats that are in need, it’s the owners who are also looking out for someone special.  
This April for National Pet Month, the world-famous rescue centre is highlighting one very special companionship between Dan Windsor, a 14-year-old boy living with Asperger’s Syndrome, and his Battersea cat, Polly. 

In April 2015, Jo Windsor from Hampshire got in touch with Battersea’s London centre in search of a specific cat for her son, Dan, then 12-years-old. Dan had just been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD which resulted in emotional and behavioural issues. He also suffers from insomnia causing severe anxiety as well as being constantly tired from lack of sleep. Having grown up with cats in the household, Dan has always gained more comfort from having a cat around. 

Jo explains: “We’d been looking for an older cat so came to Battersea in the hope that they’d be able to help. We used to have two elderly cats and Dan was completely devoted to them. He would share his bed with them and they’d snuggle together. Sadly, our cats passed away from old age and Dan found it difficult to sleep once more.”

Jo was searching for a calm cat who wasn’t afraid to snuggle and who’d be able to provide stability for Dan. An older cat was preferable and Jo needed a confident cat that would fit into life with the family of four, as well as getting on with their dogs, Blaze and Juno.

After going through the Battersea registering process, the Cattery Rehoming Team matched Jo to Polly, a then four-year-old tabby and white Domestic Short-hair. Just two days later, the family came to meet Polly and took her back home to Hampshire.  
Since then, Dan and Polly have formed a very strong bond and she spends most of her day with him. Polly sleeps with him at night and is a great comfort for him during difficult situations such as meeting new people. He’s known as ‘Dan with the cat’ as he’s often accompanied by Polly in her carrier when he has any medical appointments.

Jo continues: “Dan’s left mainstream school and is tutored at home now; Polly will sit on his books helping him while he studies. When Dan is upset or angry, he’ll go find Polly and she helps ease the situation. Polly is such a confident and sociable cat and gets on really well with our Border Collie - Blaze, and just recently our new puppy – Juno. Polly’s been everything we could’ve hoped for and so much more. She’s an absolute delight and we all love her.”

Dan adds: “Although Polly is a rescue cat, she has rescued me more than I have rescued her!”
Rosa Steele, Cattery Team Leader at Battersea, said: “We love hearing stories from owners who have rehomed a cat from us and are so pleased Dan and Polly have found each other. It sounds like a great companionship.”

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For more information and images please contact 020 7627 9332 or email press@battersea.org.uk

Notes to editors  

  • Established in 1860, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home aims never to turn away a dog or cat in need of our help, caring for them until their owners or loving new homes can be found, no matter how long it takes. We are champions for, and supporters of, vulnerable dogs and cats, determined to create lasting changes for animals in our society.  
  • Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats. 
  • In 2016 the Home cared for over 7000 dogs and cats. 
  • Battersea cares for an average of 270 dogs and 200 cats across its three centres at any one time. 
  • In addition to the site in South West London, the Home also has two other centres based at Old Windsor, Berkshire and Brands Hatch, Kent. 
  • Battersea Dogs & Cats Home receives no central government funding towards the care of its dogs and cats and relies on the generosity and support of the public to help care for lost and abandoned dogs & cats. To make a donation visit our website or call 0207 627 7883. 
  • Follow Battersea on Twitter @BDCH or facebook.com/Battersea