LIFE IN A MIXED MARRIAGE – pussycats and autism, a response
How do I compete with pictures of cats? Pop in some of my own I think 🙂
Above: The Gus I knew
Well, first of all Teresa and I met online, her profile said “must be cat tolerant”; she didn’t mention that they would sleep with us and between us. She didn’t mention how they seem to like interrupting other bed activities too. Tolerant, I would say so!
I have often described our relationship as me accepting I was #6 on her totem pole of important people (after her dad and 4 cats). When her dad died I was promoted to #5, after poor Gus went I thought I was promoted again to the dizzying heights of #4, except I wasn’t, Gus is still on that list. Now young Ferret (Dinsky) has arrived I’m back down to #6, oh well nothing changes 🙂
Gus’s death was devastating for me for two reasons, first it was devastating for Teresa and seeing her go through that loss was awful, trying to support her, difficult. It was also awful for Gus, he may be “just a cat” (don’t ever try saying that too close to Teresa 🙂 ) but he was rather special. Unlike most cats Gus was friendly with EVERYONE (shouted from the rooftops). Teresa called him a tart and he was, a tickle from anyone was welcome, the more the merrier. He and I did have our routines and I loved them, we kept them going till the last day when I stroked him in the bed (where he slept all the time at the end) and he didn’t respond, that was a very sad day.
So, cats and autism, well there is a book “All Cats Have Asperger’s Syndrome” (Kathy Hoopman 2006), but that’s not the point here. Cats are not human; they don’t react the same way as humans. I’d go further and say that they don’t react the same way as neurotypicals. Autistics don’t react the same way neurotypicals do either and in a sense, we sometimes have more in common with the cats than the other humans! Our world makes sense to us; it is only when it bumps up against the NT world that confusion can occur.
Gus had me fooled, I thought it was maybe possible that I could find a way to communicate with SOMEONE (even a cat) and we could share a bit of common language – even if that’s only affection.
Above: Jane was never this cute again 🙂
But Gus was special, Jane (my first cat), she’s a madam, I stroke her and she walks off, guaranteed; stroke Gus and he’d just roll on his back and ask for more.
Above: Baby Burlington finding his own way onto the worktop, sometimes he fell into the bin!
Burlington (my second cat), all I have to do is look at him and he runs away. Spook, well Spook is most definitely a one woman cat and I have to fight him for space in the bed, as far as he is concerned our bed is for him and Teresa and if I’m very good and keep out of the way, he’ll tolerate my presence.
So, yes, Gus was special. I hoped I might learn how to let a new kitten get to know and trust me and accept me for who I was. You can have no idea how isolating autism can be and how important such little things can be. Nobody could replace Gus, but it would be nice for 1 in 4 to notice I exist, please! Ferret is a darling, he is affectionate (like Gus was), he and I have been intensively together for the past week, but he’s ours not mine, he’s his own cat, but I have hopes and cross my fingers. All those lacerations all over my body have got to be worth something surely?
Accepting that Mrs Felimones (aka Teresa) would always be more attractive to any cat (Ferret included) has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with. After all, if you could choose between a neurotypical who can understand you without trying or an autistic who struggles and has to work hard at it, which would you choose? Learning to do what I need to do to not frighten off young Ferret has so many parallels with the problems I have in not knowing what to do with human relationships, no matter how desperate I am to have them and will, I hope, maybe help me a bit with some humans too.
Are cats autistic? I don’t know, They certainly like routine and most definitely don’t react the way neurotypicals do, but if you can accept their difference even when they can’t explain it to you, maybe you can find a way to accept mine too?