Precious Photos Show the Unparalleled Bond Between a Girl With Autism and Her Cat
We’ve read and reported on a few stories about therapy dogs. This story is about a cat, though — one who’s helping a little girl with autism connect with the world.
In the photo above, 4-year-old Iris Grace, a child who’s made headlines before for her incredible paintings, snuggles up to her four-legged best friend, Thula (pronounced “Too-la”). The Maine Coon joined Iris’ family in February, according to her mom, Arabella Carter-Johnson. Since then, the pair have been inseparable.
“It’s incredibly comforting for me to know Iris can laugh and play, just be together with no pressures, no struggles with language,” Carter-Johnson told The Mighty in an email. “They just understand one another.”
Up until last December, Carter-Johnson had given up hope on finding Iris a faithful friend. Despite her mother’s efforts, the 4-year-old showed little interest in socializing — until she met a family friend’s cat. And when Thula arrived a few months later, their connection was instant.
With Thula by her side, Iris wakes up easier each morning. Usually, she’s nonverbal, according to her mom, but in the last few months, she’s talked more and more. When Thula tries to jump on her iPad, Iris will say, “Sit, cat.” The two always sleep side-by-side.
“If Iris wakes during the night, Thula is there to settle her,” Carter-Johnson wrote on her blog. “It’s as though she instinctively knows what to do.”
Iris’ mom hopes that when people read her daughter’s story — whether it be about her friendship with a cat or her paintings — they’ll change any preconceived notion they had about autism.
“I want people to see the potential in autistic children,” she told The Mighty. “It’s all about opportunities, both Iris and Thula are proof of that. Who would have thought a [little girl] would inspire millions worldwide with her paintings or a cat could ride on a bike and take baths happily with a child?”
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