I’m not entirely sure how to introduce this interview, considering that it really is one of the funniest, and endearing ones I have done yet. Jessi Cat is a four year old cat, who belongs to the Dillon household. One of the son’s, called Lorcan, has Aspergers Syndrome, as well as selective mutism ; two disorders which impact on his perception, as well as his speech. Since Jessi arrived, things have changed a great deal, as I hope you will see in this interview: say hello to Jessi.
*Words in response by Jayne Dillon*
Hello Jessi, thank you for agreeing to this interview for Mademoiselle. We are very honored to have you here.
Thank you for asking me! This is very exciting!
You play a prominent role in the Dillon household. Can you tell us a bit about how you came to live there?
Hiya! I came to live with the Dillon’s under purrfectly sad circumstances. They had an elderly kitty named Flo who died of kidney failure. After Flo died Jayne got a bit freaked out thinking she could hear Flo’s paws on the wooden floor and decided to get another cat. They decided to get a pedigree cat rather than a rescue kitty as they live on quite a busy road and wanted a house cat. Happily, I was just old enough to leave my mamma and litter mates so they came to see me and fell under my spell straight away. The rest, as they say, is history.
Could you take us through your daily routine, hour by hour?
Ok, here we go. I tend to vary where I sleep at night but I’m usually upstairs somewhere. I occasionally sleep downstairs but the dog is a pawful snorer! I get up when ma humans start mooching about for the day and I meow loudly for food. They like me to do this, I think it helps them to wake up for the day! I like to help wake up ma young humans so they are not late for school. I also check they eat breakfast as young brains need nourishment to function well. When they have gone to school I either ‘help’ around the house or I settle down for a snooze. I do wander into the kitchen on a regular basis to meow for ma favourite treat, Dreamies. I just love them and I do get a bit cross if I get told I can’t have any more….
When Lorcan comes home from school I often greet him with an Eskimo kiss. He loves me doing this. Then we play. Sometimes Lorcan sets up rows of action figures which I like to step carefully through. On occasion I am a bit naughty and I charge through, scattering them. Lorcan doesn’t get cross with me.
He is always doing things of interest and I like to get involved. As you know, cats are curious creatures and small boys are fun to be with. In the evening I often climb up on the TV. It isn’t very comfortable but it is warm and the view is great. I often get lifted down because it is ‘dangerous’ and humans get annoyed when ma fluffy tail blocks the screen. When Lorcan goes to bed I like to go upstairs and make sure he is ok.
To you specifically, are the awards you have received worthwhile?
I have two very purrecious awards from Cats Protection. I won the first one for being Lorcan’s best friend. I wasn’t allowed to go to the awards which I think was a shame as I am a very well behaved young lady. I followed the awards ceremony on Twitter and was extremely purrleased when Lorcan and I won. I was the first purrson Lorcan said ‘I love you’ to which was a very purrecious moment to me. I feel very purroud to be Lorcan’s best friend and to help him and look after him. When we won the Cats Protection National Cat of the Year Award it was sooooo exciting! There were so many amazing cats who had helped humans but they picked me! I help out Cats Protection sometimes by going along and helping them fundraise, which is fun! Everyone makes a fuss of me because I am kind and loving and very adorable! We also support the charity Birman Welfare and Rescue which cares for and re homes lovely birmans like me. Obviously we also support the wonderful Selective Mutism Information and Research Association (SMIRA).
Could you tell us a bit about your relationship with Lorcan?
I am Lorcan’s best friend. Lorcan is my best friend. I am very good at sensing his mood and adapting my behaviour accordingly. If he seems sad for instance, I will sit quietly with him. I am always happy to see him and miss him when he is at school. I am a very social cat and I love his company.
Do you have any beliefs in theories of what causes Autism, such as it being a combination of Genes?
I am of the opinion that there is a genetic link. My favourite theory about the cause of Autism is that it is a form of evolution. A different way of seeing the world.
What is your favorite cat toy?
This is a difficult one. I like feathery toys very much indeed but my favourite ever toy is a Wiggly Worm. They come in different colours with a thread attached. I always recommend cat people snip the thread off as a kitty could get hurt. Wiggly Worms are nice and light and cats love to carry them about and throw them around.
When Lorcan is at school, what do you do?
I’m quite a busy little purrson so I can be found ‘helping’ with the cleaning on occasion. I like to follow ma humans about and meow at them. However, if I am an honest kitty I like to sleep. Hour after hour.
Do you have any tips, for parents with selectively mute/ autistic children?
The most impurrtant tip I think is for families to trust their instincts. Parents know their child better than any professional. Selective mutism is not as well known as autism but if it is treated properly children can make a full recovery. The first thing to do if a child is selectively mute is to remove all pressure to speak. Bribing, tricking or trying to force a child to speak will not work and can be very damaging.
I like to accept little persons for who they are and work with them to build confidence and coping strategies. Cats can do this in a number of ways ranging from slow blinking and head bumps to purring to alleviate anxiety. Some cats have to learn the skills of interacting with humans but some of us are born with these skills. When I first met Lorcan I was a very young kitten. I instinctively knew I must not bite or put out my claws as he wouldn’t trust me again if I hurt him. I behaved very gently with him and allowed him to cuddle me when he wanted to. I also knew it was important to look after him so I followed him around and offered a comforting paw when necessary. Meowing is good too as Lorcan learned that if he spoke to me I responded.
Out of the following singers, which is your favorite?
B. Michael Jackson
C. Dire Straits
Hmmm, difficult. I think I would have to go with Adele out of those four but I also like to listen to Gary Numan. One of my favourite songs is The Lovecats by The Cure.