Iris’ mom had almost given up on the search for an animal therapy companion for her autistic daughter until she realized that she just hadn’t found the right animal yet.
Maine Coons are known to be the intelligent and gentle giants of the cat world and despite her petite size, Thula is no exception!
Her gentle and compassionate character is especially important for Iris, an incredibly talented 5-year-old girl with autism who paints beautiful pictures assisted by her furry companion.
“Thula has lowered her daily anxieties in life and keeps Iris calm, but equally has the effect of encouraging her to be more social. She will talk more to Thula, saying little phrases like ‘sit cat.’” Iris’ mom said.
Iris’ mom wasn’t advised to get an autism therapy animal, but when she researched autism, she found stories about the wonderful effects that animals can have on autistic kids.
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Iris was taken to Equine therapy but she didn’t seem very interested in horses at that time.
Then they tried a therapy dog but Iris and the dog didn’t get along – Iris hated being licked and the tail wagging, the hyperactivity of the dog would upset her.
“By this point I was getting sick of the idea. I couldn’t carry on with trialing out different animals, it wasn’t fair on anyone and not helping Iris at all.” her mom said.
An, just when she was about to give up on the idea, something miraculous happened.
“My brother’s girlfriend needed a place for their cat over the Christmas holidays and we offered to look after her while they were abroad. She was a beautiful Siberian and Iris connected immediately with her.” she said.
Iris’ mom realized that she just hadn’t found the right animal yet. It took a while to find the right cat but they got there in the end.
Thula wasn’t a trained service/therapy cat but Iris’ family got her used to wearing a harness when she was a kitten, also riding in the car and on the bike. The rest she has done it all on her own and she has become a wonderful loyal companion.
Thanks to little Thula, Iris is more active first thing in the morning now. Before Thula, it was always hard to get the day going or get her engaged in daily routines and activities like waterplay, playdoh, painting, bike rides, iPad, puzzles, marble run, drawing…
Whatever Iris is doing, Thula is always there by her side offering her companionship, friendship and unconditional love.
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