Most everyone has had a pet at some point. Thus, many also had to bear that tough day when the cat, dog, parakeet, or hamster breathed its last breath. Knowing a pet’s tendency to become a member of the family, losing them can feel as tragic as losing a longtime friend.
Well, now I am about to face said trial. My family’s sixteen-year-old cat, Kasie, recently showed shocking signs including seizures and coughing fits. My mom took her to the vet, and we found out her lungs had fluid buildup. This is very hard for all of us to wrap our minds around: our longtime furry companion will likely leave us soon…
Which leads me into the subject I really want to discuss: how those on the autism spectrum develop a much deeper connection with animals than people.
My dad jokingly compares Kasie and me to E.T. and Elliot, as we always did the same things together. I was the only one in our family who let her sleep in my room at night, and whenever my parents would homeschool me, she sat right next to me the whole time. I could not underestimate the benefit Kasie added to my social growth; unlike the stressful act of communicating with humans, I found no pressure in communicating with a nonverbal cat. Plus, the unpredictable, dishonest nature of people can be hazardous for those with autism in conversation, whereas cats thrive off their impulses—you can easily tell exactly what they’re thinking.
Likewise, Kasie apparently had a greater understanding of me than the others in the family. Compared to mom, dad, or my sister, she displayed a particular behavior when I wasn’t there. While at Arizona State University, my parents in the early months told me of her increasing neediness, as expressed in discontent by pooping on my bed—twice! It seemed like she acknowledged my extra attention given to her. Thus, it explains my difficulty to digest a fast approaching cat-less reality.
The main thing to remember between autism and animals is: Dying is just a part of life; death gives motivation for the living to progress. Here are helpful reminders to describe my reasoning:
- In the Harry Potter series, Dumbledore once said, “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living.” Once death arrives to a human or animal, it means their unbearable suffering finally ends. You no longer need to worry over them living through an unbearable illness. This was the case of our Auntie Rachel’s severe case of dementia. It doesn’t necessarily mean death frees the sufferer, but it removes the sufferer’s relative’s heavy burden.
- Another saying is, “Don’t be sad that it’s over, be glad that it happened!” I’m not saying don’t acknowledge a tragedy, but instead, use it as a time to reflect, and feel grateful for those memories worth crying over losing.
- Don’t let this reality stop you from getting a pet. Science proves how living with a cat or dog boosts optimism and treats loneliness. As between me and Kasie; interaction often put me in a much better mood. As a plus, there are countless sick or wounded animals in pounds and shelters who desperately need a home. --Written by Trevor Pacelli