MOTOR neurone disease has proved no obstacle for one Swindon pet lover, who has been honoured with a national award for her devotion to her diabetic cat.

Audrey Cowley, of Gorse Hill, was voted MSD Health’s Diabetic Pet Owner Of The Year for her dedication to her feline friend of 15 years, Symba.

The 75-year-old, who was nominated by Symba’s vet, suffers from motor neurone disease which leaves her unable to walk or talk without difficulty.

However, Audrey, together with 83-year-old husband Peter, has successfully managed Symba’s condition for four years. t and said she was delighted to receive the accolade.

“Symba’s vet nominated me for the award and I was thrilled to have won. Despite my difficulties, treating Symba gives him the quality of life he deserves which I wouldn’t change for the world,” she said.

When Symba, an Abyssinian, was first diagnosed with diabetes it made the cat-loving couple apprehensive about the care he would need.

“It was daunting at the time, wondering how I would cope with giving him insulin injections twice a day, plus taking blood sugar readings,” said Audrey.

Audrey rose to the challenge after receiving help and advice from Richard Gowshall at Eastcott Veterinary hospital and said that Symba is worth the care.

“Symba helps me get through some difficult days. It is hard work, but with the support of my husband, coping with Symba and his diabetes is rewarding,” she said.

And Symba is certainly no scaredy-cat when it comes to his twice-daily insulin injections.

Peter said: “He will call to Audrey if he can’t see her, he’s always been very vocal and will jump on to her lap when it’s time to have his injection. He also doesn’t mind having his tablets, which is unheard of for a cat.

“The bond between them is amazing to watch. He is always by her side. He’ll wake her up first thing in the morning by sitting on her chest and ride on her stair lift with her. He even sits and watches TV with her.”

When not by his beloved owner’s side Symba can be found sleeping in the bottom of Peter’s wardrobe or playing with his favourite toy,

The awards, held by animal pharmaceutical company MSD Health celebrate the and devotion that it takes for pet lovers to manage conditions in animals and also coincided with Pet Diabetes month which raises awareness about the condition in cat and dog diabetes.

As their prize, Audrey and Symba won a professional photoshoot that captured the love between them.

Peter said: “What we love most about Symba is that he gives a lot of love and he has complete trust in Audrey. He’s like our son and he’s a member of the family.”

Zorica Agbaba, the MSD diabetic support product manager said: “Audrey’s dedication to treating and monitoring Symba’s diabetes is inspirational and she deserves the Pet Carer Of The Year award.”

For more information about pet diabetes or to find out more about Pet Diabetes Month, just visit