On Monday, we shared the amazing story of Iris Grace, a 5-year-old girl with autism who paints stunning works of art. Thanks to Sarah, one of our readers who left a comment on our Facebook page, our attention was brought to the incredible bond between Iris and Thula, her therapy cat. Iris, who was diagnosed with autism in December 2011, had a difficult time engaging with the people and world around her until her parents brought the Main Coon kitten home in February 2014. A heartwarming friendship blossomed as the duo became inseparable, with Thula accompanying her human friend during lessons, nap time, outdoor adventures, painting sessions, and even in the bathtub.
According to Iris’s parents, the gentle cat has helped the little girl open up, as she’s begun expressing herself verbally and showing affection more easily than before. “Ever since we came home with this precious magical kitten, she has been casting a spell over Iris through her faithful companionship, natural affinity and gentle nature. New doorways to communication and emotions are opening and Iris is happier than ever before,” Iris’s mother shared on her blog.
“When Thula first came to us, Iris wouldn’t stroke her very much, if the kitten’s body touched Iris’s bare tummy she would move, so that they were just side by side. Thula was persistent and her everlasting loving company caught Iris’s attention. There has always been an undeniably strong connection between them right from the beginning, but now I am seeing a change in Iris’s behaviour towards her. She is more tactile and affectionate, massaging Thula’s black paws and letting her fingers seep into her silky coat. While she is on the iPad there is one hand playing a game and the other is stroking her faithful cat who rests beside her. I feel certain that this has had an effect on calming her senses and once again I feel so much gratitude and respect for the new member of the family.”
UPDATE: We’re elated to announce that Iris’ story is one of 25 photo stories featured in our new book For Love, published by Chronicle Books! The official release date is March 15, 2016, and the book is currently available to pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Indie Bound.