Ex-soldier’s pet is Britain’s most caring cat

Jack Dignam-Thomas with his Turkish Van Cat, Elias
Jack Dignam-Thomas with his Turkish Van Cat, Elias

A feisty feline who helps his war veteran owner in his fight with debilitating post traumatic stress disorder (PDST) has been named the country’s most caring cat.

For Army veteran Jack Dignam-Thomas, three-year-old, weighty 17lb Turkish van cat Elias is more than just a pet.

He is a vital part of the former Aylesbury Grammar School student’s ongoing recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

And last week Elias walked off with the Most Caring Cat accolade at the National Cat of the Year Awards.

Jack of Hillesden said: “When it was announced that Elias had won I was absolutely gobsmacked, he gets treats all the time, but was very happy when we got home so that he could have his bowl filled up again.”

Elias was nominated by Jack’s wife, Sally and the couple attended a special ceremony at London’s Savoy hotel to hear the winners announced.

Jack, 60, has suffered from PTSD since serving as a dog handler with the Royal Army Veterinary corps in Northern Ireland in the 1980s. In one terrifying incident, Jack was held for hours with a 9mm pistol to his head, after a member of his brigade went berserk.

Sally said: “Jack can have good days and bad days. He either withdraws completely into himself and switches off.”

Jack lived in Aylesbury after leaving the army and was treated by Poplar Grove surgery, but it is Elias who offers the most comfort to the former soldier when he is suffering the most.

Sally said: “They’ve got a special bond. If he senses that Jack is down or not having a good day, he will go over, jump up on Jack’s lap, climb up his chest and headbutt him, until Jack comes back to the here and now and fusses him.

“He brings Jack back.”