Not only certified therapy cats, but your own cat has a positive effect on your health, cheering you up and bringing love and joy into your life.
Here is an inspirational story of a Maine Coon kitten and a child with autism.
Maine Coon Thula raises awareness on how cats can help children with autism.
Arabella has a special person in her life, her daughter Iris Grace, a child with autism.
Iris has a special companion in her life, a Maine Coon cat Thula.
Arabella kindly shares with our cat loving readers how the beautiful friendship began, about the cat and the girl’s life together, and what the cat’s name Thula means:
By Arabella Carter-Johnson
After the success of our Christmas house guest, a beautiful Siberian cat we were looking after and seeing how Iris had formed a strong bond I was concerned that nothing would ever compare and that we were searching for something so elusive.
We had a rescue cat on a trial basis and it was as though the cat and Iris didn’t even see each other, no interest at all.
How many times could we do this? What message does it send to Iris that the cats come and go?
I began to research more heavily into the breed that would suit us with all of the character traits I am looking for.
The Maine Coon fitted the bill and as luck would have it there was an established breeder not that far from our house.
I recounted Iris’s story, the savant child artist that found certain aspects of life very challenging and how we thought a cat might help her, the breeder had a kitten who wasn’t by any means the biggest or strongest but was the most friendly, kind kitten she had ever known and understanding that we were searching for a very special character she thought that she would be perfect.
The kitten has been at Iris’s side since she arrived and slept in her arms during her first night here like her guardian angel. A true Maine Coon, affectionate, loving and intelligent.
It seemed like they were old friends as I watched them on the sofa, the kitten attentively looking at the iPad screen with Iris.
She purrs non stop and has long white whiskers and black tips on her ears. We have named her Thula, pronounced “Toola” after one of Iris’s favourite African lullabies called “Thula, Thula” meaning Peace and Tranquility in Zulu.
The morning routine is changing, Iris once slow to stir and difficult to get going before 9am has now got springs in her feet.
Waking up with her new friend beside her spreads a wide smile and I hear her say ‘more’ as she walks following her to the stairs.
Thula’s constant presence and gentle nature is having a remarkable effect upon Iris who is nonverbal most of the time, I am hearing more words, she is instructing Thula on how she wants her to be.
“Sit cat”, when Thula is trying to have a go on the iPad. Iris says it with such authority and it works, she obediently sits down with her striped legs neatly together.
Unusually for a child of Iris’s age the kitten hasn’t been mauled around, stroked or picked up constantly, their relationship is based upon companionship.
If Iris wakes during the night Thula is there to settle her instinctively knowing what to do, when Iris gets distressed during the day this little kitten doesn’t feel frightened she stays by Iris and distracts her from her difficulties.
We wanted to share Iris’s story to raise awareness of how beneficial and therapeutic a cat can be in the life of a child with Autism, Thula is helping Iris is ways I could only imagine, it’s incredible.
Photo by: Arabella Carter-Johnson