Respecting Communication

One of the most significant things I’ve noticed since adopting Leia is how she communicates.

After growing up with mostly dogs and fish, I learned that cats often have very different preferences and body language compared to the dogs I grew up with.

The difference can be confusing, but being autistic means I understand my cat’s sensory and interaction needs rather well.

Tabby cat with green eyes is sitting on the carpet and looking off into the distance.

As for Leia, she has her own way of letting me know what she needs and wants.

  • When she wants fresh water, she jumps into the bathtub and stares at me.
  • When she’s hungry, she jumps on my desk until I follow her to the food bowl.
  • When she’s annoyed, I can tell by the way her ears turn and tail swish.

And the best of all?

I can tell when she’s happy and content in so many ways.

She shows her love with quiet slow blinks, joyful flops, and small chirps of acknowledgement. Her happiness is clear in soothing purrs and gentle kneading.

She doesn’t need speech to show her love, and I don’t need speech to give her my love either.

It’s interesting to me how people are willing to make an effort to understand pets – even to the point of giving them buttons (AAC!) to communicate. Not that this is a bad thing; I find it quite neat!

[Bunny the dog and Billi the cat are my two personal favorites.]

But when it comes to those of us who communicate without speech? It’s often a completely different story.

People are hesitant to provide us with AAC, often push for speech, and dismiss actions as just “behaviors” to be fixed. They label nonspeakers as incompetent or unable to understand, when we notice so much.

If people presume competence for their pets, why don’t they presume competence for human beings?

If people can respect the way pets communicate, why can’t they do that for us?

Communication in its many forms deserves to be seen, heard, and understood.

Light blue background with a dark blue cat silhouette and paw print. The words say “If people can respect how pets communicate, why can’t they respect the way we do?”

One thought on “Respecting Communication

  1. Yep, cats are all about relationship and communication. Here’s an idea, if books are your thing, and she does have social media too, look up a Canadian cat rescuer name of Pamela Merritt and her book and social media titled The Way of Cats. Even with having had cats since the beginning of the 1990s I learned useful things from it. Those little critters add life and love to our human life and being at a scale far beyond, way beyond, the size of their furry little selves.


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