Enid is very special. She is a loyal, kind, patient and loving friend and for the seven months she has been part of our family, we would be lost without her. Did I mention, Enid is our beloved therapy cat.

How did this wonderful creature become part of our lives?

It was early 2016, and whilst things were going ok for Neiva at nursery we were in a constant state of worry. Whilst her vocabulary was advanced, she would sing songs constantly all day long, and recite long paragraphs of her most favourite Charlie & Lola episodes, her communication was at that time very basic. She would only communicate with us if she needed something “juicy mango please” (her favourite apple and mango drink) and “jammy biscuit please” were her most frequent requests! Would Neiva ever be able to communicate with us? Would she ever make real friends? Does she ever feel lonely? Are we doing everything we can for her? We were trying desperately to communicate with her in the only way WE knew how without realising to HER we might as well have been speaking a foreign language. This led to immense frustration on both sides and the memories I have of that period are very dark, sad and helpless.

Around this time there was a lot of buzz online and in the media around a special little girl named Iris Grace and her Monet style paintings. She was locked in her silent world, like Neiva, but with the help of her art, her devoted parents and her pet cat Thula she had began to communicate with the outside world again. This was just the hope I was looking for! I ordered the book immediately and read it from cover to cover in one night, sobbing from start to finish. The next day I told my Mum about it and she eagerly took the book (and cried from start to finish) and passed it on to my Grandma (who also read it and cried from start to finish). The same scenario played again and again with my sister, then other family and friends, all with the same response, the similarities to Neiva were striking!

“Why dont you get Neiva a cat just like Iris?” my Mum asked one day whilst we were both watching Neiva putting her matchbox mice to bed. “A Maine Coon cat?” I said “Why not?” she replied “Neiva has such a bond with animals and nature I cant see why it wouldn’t help her, they are known for being very child friendly, they even love water, how much would Neiva love a pet that loves water just as much as she does”

The more I thought about it the more it made sense. Every week we took Neiva to the same farm for ice cream, and every time she made a fuss of all the animals there, particularly the ducks. She always seemed settled outside in the elements in all weathers and with animals. Paul and I talked about it at length. He agreed that it would be a good idea and we worked out a budget.

Mum and I started our search. Early on however, became apparent that our budget would only stretch to a cross breed. Disheartened, I told her we’d have to limit our search or need more time to save up for a pure bred. A couple of days later I received a text from Mum with a link to a new litter of pure bred Maine Coon kittens. Both mother and father were there available to see and all the paperwork was in order. It was perfect….but way out of our budget. Mum called me. “Yes I know this is outside of your budget” she began “but me and GG (my Grandma) have been talking and we’d like to put the rest towards it” We were over the moon! “Yes absolutely, thank you!!”

We went to view the litter when they were nine weeks old. The lady that we met was a very experienced breeder and all the cats there looked healthy happy and well looked after. Neiva immediately wanted to be with them. Mum and I knew we had made the right decision. It was a group of five kittens and we had the choice of two girls. The first girl was very playful and jumped up on Neiva’s lap immediately. Neiva laughed “hello kitty” she said excitedly. No sooner had the words left her mouth and the kitten ran off to play with her brothers. “Where is the other girl?” I asked. “Shes hiding under the sofa, see” said the lady.

Sure enough there she was. She looked like the baby of the family, very shy, almost hiding behind her paws. Gently, the lady coaxed her out and after a few moments of gaining our trust she came and sat on my knee. I looked at Mum, this was the cat for us. I loved her gentle manner, like Neiva. I could see immediately they would get along fine.

We had to wait another four weeks before we could take her home. During this time we asked Neiva over and over again what should we call her? We were expecting ‘Casper’ the cat in Charlie & Lola or ‘Twinkles’ again another cat in an episode of Charlie & Lola or even just ‘Kitty’. We couldnt believe it when she said out of the blue ‘Enid’ It was perfect!

The day arrived and we were so excited! Neiva stayed behind at home with my sister whilst we collected her. We gently brought her into the middle of the room and opened the cat box and waited for her to come out and explore.

“Hello Enid” said Neiva “its Enid” “hello kitty” she said over and over. She was so happy and so were we. That first night Neiva went to sleep with Enid sleeping on top of her. Watching the two of them together made my heart melt. This was a good day.

From that day on, Neiva and Enid have been inseparable. They share everything, Neiva even feeds her breakfast when she thinks I’m not looking. Only last week whilst feeding her treats, Neiva gently stroked Enid and said “your a good friend Enid”

We are forever indebted to the story of Iris Grace. Without her, we would have never met Enid. As I am typing now, Neiva’s faithful friend is laid sleeping by my side. I dont mind that she will totally forget about me when Neiva comes home from school.

“Yes Enid, you are very very special”

To follow Iris Grace’s journey on instagram click hereFor a link to the book Iris Grace click here