A young boy’s anxieties over starting at a new school have now completely disappeared– because his family cat joins him on the school run every morning and afternoon.
When William Dutton, four, first started to attend Maple Tree Lower School, Sandy, in April 2014, he was withdrawn and reticent when leaving home each day.
However his fears started to fade as one morning his family’s eight-year-old cat Milly Moos sat with him as he got ready for school, then joined him and mum Victoria on the half-mile journey to Maple Tree.
Remarkably later that day she reappeared at the door as Victoria left to pick William up and since then Milly Moos has become a daily fixture on the school run.
Her company became a huge talking point and 18 months on William delights in setting out for the journey to Maple Lower each day.
Victoria told the Chronicle: “William is quite a confident boy but he suffers from mild anxiety and would get really shy and anxious about being at school without me.
“Milly seemed to sense it and she started to sit by the door and walk with us, it was a complete distraction for William as he found it so funny that she was trotting along with us.
“It is like she has got a built in clock as when I go to pick William up she will appear and come with me. I don’t ever call her, it is really crazy!”
On the half-mile journey to school Milly will join Victoria, William and his one-year-old sister Amber to the main road about 50 metres from Maple Lower, where she will sit and wait for Victoria and Amber to return.
She has the same routine in the afternoons.
Victoria said: “She is quite savvy, she will hide somewhere and then follow us on the way back.
“It is quite amazing, you hear her before you see her – sometimes you can hear her crying in a bush and then she will jump out on us,
“It has now just become her ritual of the day, we thought she would stop doing it after a while but it has been 18 months now.”
She added: “At school they have noticed a change in William, before he was anxious with loud noises or if they put something onto a whiteboard that he didn’t like.
“He has grown a lot more confident and I think Milly has had a part to play in that.”
Victoria and husband Simon are now convinced that the bizarre morning routine shows that Milly has a special affection for William, that she does not share with Amber.
Signs of this bond go back even before William was born in March 2011.
Victoria said: “It is like she has always had a sixth sense for him, from a few months into my pregnancy she would sit on my lap and put her paw on my bump.
“She had never been a lap cat before and would just keep to herself so we thought this was a bit strange.
“Milly then started to sleep in William’s nursery before he was born– she would curl up in his Moses basket even though she had her own bed.
“We thought that was probably because it was comfortable but as soon as we got a bouncy chair for William she started sleeping in that as well.
“I thought it would be the same when Amber was born but she has no interest at all.
“William thinks it is great and that he is a special one!”