Adopted Kitten Helps Teenager with Autism Gain Confidence

In caring for a kitten named Katie, John learns to trust himself and feel more confident in his abilities.

John + Katie

When a teenager named John saw an adoptable kitten named Katie, it was love at first sight. In caring for Katie, John gained confidence in his abilities—and in return, Katie shows John that she loves him unconditionally, exactly as he is. 

"Katie has changed my life because I feel like Katie understands me, loves me, and doesn’t judge me for having autism."

As a teenager with autism, I tend to act differently from neurotypical people, and I’m often self-conscious about this. For example, I act impulsively, I have a hard time making small talk, I don’t smile or make eye contact as much, and I sometimes have a hard time finding the words to express myself. I can tell I’m doing these things because sometimes people give me weird looks. This makes me feel distressed and embarrassed. And it makes me scared to want to do some things.

This summer, I asked my mom if I could get a kitten. We already have a 7-year-old Ragdoll mix named Roscoe who I love a lot. I wanted a kitten after seeing a bunch of feral kittens outside of the Sullivan Center where I go for therapy every week. Seeing those kittens made me feel sad, and I wished I could take them all home. My mom said that we couldn’t take one of those kittens, but we could give a kitten from a shelter a home. We visited The Cat House on the Kings website and saw a picture of a cute grey and white kitten named Katie. I was drawn to Katie’s picture immediately and felt that she would be perfect for us, especially because she’s a Maine Coon mix and they have personalities like Ragdolls. Our application to adopt Katie was approved, and I was overjoyed. 

A few days later, my mom took me and my brother to Petco, and we got to meet Katie for the first time. When I saw her in person, I immediately fell in love with her. She was so tiny and cute. When we took her home she was a little scared of us at first, but very soon she began letting us pet her and carry her, and she would sometimes climb into my bed.

Katie has changed my life because I feel like Katie understands me, loves me, and doesn’t judge me for having autism. She still wants me to pet her and talk to her and love her and doesn’t notice how I sometimes act differently from other people. Katie is also dependent on us to survive since she’s so young. I help clean her litter box, feed her, give her water, and play with her, and I have also helped Katie and Roscoe become friends. 

It gives me confidence that she trusts me to take care of her. I feel positive about myself and more confident around other people because I know that I am a person who can take good care of a kitten and because I know that I am worthy of Katie’s love and affection. Adopting Katie from The Cat House on the Kings has been a wonderful experience that has shown me that I have strengths as a human being I never knew I had.

Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by John won The Cat House on the Kings in Parlier, California a 2021 Love Stories award.