updated 05/12/2014 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/12/2014 AT 3:00 PM ET
In the weeks since his beloved cat disappeared, Justin Beswick has been anxious and his speech has deteriorated.
Doctors believe the 19-year-old, who was diagnosed with a degenerative disease nearly four years ago, has just 18 months to live and his mother, Tania Huxtable, is desperate to get the cat back.
According to Australia’s The Advertiser, the fluffy indoor feline named Oreo disappeared on April 18 from the family’s home in Adelaide. Huxtable says she has hired a pet detective, posted signs and walked door-to-door in her neighborhood in an effort to find the ragdoll cat that means so much to her son, whose brain and spinal cord function are deteriorating due to juvenile Leukodystrophy.
Oreo’s absence has taken its toll on the teenager, who is confined to a wheelchair, eats through a tube and has limited movement and speech. “In the last few weeks his speech has been deteriorating quickly and it’s getting harder and harder to understand him,” Huxtable says. “He’s much more relaxed and content when Oreo is around.”
The distraught mother is offering a reward for the microchipped cat, who was wearing a collar with his name on it when he was last seen.
She just hopes someone will come forward with information – fast. “Justin’s enjoyment in life is diminishing,” she says, “and the cat was a big part of it.”
If you have information about Oreo, visit the Lost Dogs of Adelaide’s Facebook page.