Girl and Her Cat: Therapy Maine Coon Helps Autistic Six-Year-Old Talk Again

Posted by Stacey Venzel

Thula the cat helped a young girl come out of her shell.

Thula isn't just a therapy cat for six-year-old Iris Grace Halmshaw. The feline is Iris's best friend.

Two years ago, Iris's parents brought Thula back to their home in England after their daughter was diagnosed with severe autism two years earlier. Prior to the furry addition, the family says they experienced a "dark time" learning about and coping with Iris's withdrawn behavior. But the Maine Coon changed things.

Take a peek at the short video below for inspiration from the bond between a girl and her cat!

Dogs and horses are common therapy animals, but humans can form a special bond with every animal provided the right fit comes along. Iris's parents researched the Maine Coon breed after suggestions that this was the best choice for a fluffy companion. They found that Maine Coons are often considered friendly and are known to be drawn to water. Thula has taken her interest in water to a whole new level.

Iris and Thula began taking baths together, graduating to playtime in the pool--a big step for a young girl who had an aversion to the feel of water on her skin. Thula also accompanies Iris during painting sessions, with Iris's concentration and imagination producing high-priced artwork that has won the child international recognition.


But one of the greatest achievements of this girl-cat bond is the birth of communication. Doctors predicted Iris might never speak. Instead, shortly after Thula joined the family, Iris began talking to her pet friend, saying "sit, cat" and "more, cat."

Since their initial meeting two years ago, Iris has made leaps and bounds in her progress. Thula seems to sense Iris doesn't need her as much as she used to, but the pair remain special friends. If Iris wakes in the middle of the night, Thula still plops a toy on Iris's chest to comfort her.

That just might be the most true form of friendship.

What do you think about this incredible relationship? Tell us in the comments below!

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Girl and Her Cat: Therapy Maine Coon Helps Autistic Six-Year-Old Talk Again