A FURRY friend has been visiting a Southampton primary school to ease anxiety in children.

Rocky, a grey and white quarter Persian kitten, has followed five-year-old Miles Povey to Oakwood Primary School, in Lordswood, every weekday to support him during the start of his education.

Since Miles started in reception three weeks ago, he has not gone a school day without his beloved pet and despite attempts to keep Rocky inside the house, he still manages to make it to the school.

His mother Abbi also said that the five-month-old kitten makes pupils with anxiety "calm".

She bought five-month-old Rocky from a friend after her cat started having kittens.

Mother of three Abbi, 27, said: "We used to try to keep Rocky in but he kept getting out and following Miles to school, and has done so for the last two weeks since starting reception. We are always thanked for letting our cat go to the school and I think he'll become the school mascot. My son has anxiety and Rocky calms children at the school who have anxiety.

"Teachers have said he has been playing with the recorder there and that he starts playing with the toys. He is very close with Miles, as well as my three-month-old daughter, and is so friendly and playful."

A spokesperson for Oakwood Primary School said: "We believe the cat belongs to a local family. He enjoys wandering around our wooded site and the children like seeing him in the grounds."

It is believed that pets can have a beneficial impact on children's wellbeing, according to a vet.

Dr Huw Stacey, a vet, animal behaviourist and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “While it’s difficult to comment directly on the case of Rocky and Miles, we do know that pets are more than just family members. They are companions, councillors, fitness trainers, comforters and best friends. The human-animal bond encapsulates the special place our pets have in our lives and strengthens the wellbeing of both pets and people.

“Cats display affection and bonding in a many ways. A cat rubbing their face against you, is more than just a sign of affection - you are actually being marked as one of the family. In general pets can have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing, particularly children. Rocky would seem to have formed a special bond with Miles, something that even school can’t get in the way of, which is really good to see.

He added: “The one element of slight concern would be ensuring the safety of a cat that’s wandering around potentially busy roads, as we know road traffic deaths are at their highest during a cat’s first year of life.

“Keeping pets happy and healthy, including keeping up to date with vaccinations, helps them to continue providing humans with positive wellbeing experiences and demonstrates how we should all be responsible pet owners.”