cats. literally.

[This post is dedicated to autisticook, because of literal brains, cats, and the kind of inside jokes that are only jokes inside your head…]

So like, autisticook was talking about how she often gets totally ridiculous mental images because she interprets things people say/write literally. I also do this. It entertains me greatly. All the time. However, it also sometimes is a recipe for heartbreak, because a lot of times, my literal interpretation of what people say/write is just so much more awesome than what it turns out they actually meant. And then I’m super disappointed. Case in point (I have no excuse for the third-person narration, it just happened):

It is a rainy day in 2013, and Emma is browsing one of the science journal databases she frequents (for fun, duh). She takes a look at articles available online from one of the journals of autism research. She sees the article circled in the image below [click to enlarge], and excitedly shouts “YOU GET A CAT!?” Now she’s super pumped and takes this screenshot and sends it to her ASD cat-loving science friend because she is so pumped that there is a therapy where they just like, let you bond/hang out with a magical service cat. COPING CATS! Emma would love to have a Coping Cat!


This is a screenshot of a journal website Table of Contents, where I’ve circled one article, titled “The Coping Cat Program for Children with Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” I’ve drawn an arrow pointing towards the circled article, with a giant all-caps caption saying “THEY GIVE YOU A CAT!!!?!?!?!?”

I was super giddy…until I went to read the article abstract.


There are no cats. There were never any cats. Coping Cat is just the name for a cognitive behavioral intervention program for anxiety. The only cat is a cartoon on the cover of the “Coping Cat Workbook.” I still haven’t quite gotten over this. My literal interpretation was so much better than the actual thing they were talking about. I want a coping cat! Literal cats are always better than non-literal cats.

The end.


5 thoughts on “cats. literally.

      • I love the idea so much. Knowing that it was just a drawing on a workbook is so disappointing. These people obviously* have deficits in imaginative play.

        *Obviously in the sense that I’m making a joke about how autistic people are accused of having no imagination, based on very little research – same as my statement, for which I did absolutely zero research and only made grossly inaccurate assumptions.

  1. My autistic son LOVES cats. He imitates them frequently (like meowing and moving his head so I will pet him, also laying in patches of sunlight. He’s adorable), and he would probably love a “coping cat”. However, my husband is allergic, so we just split the difference and got chickens. They aren’t quite as cuddly as cats, but they are funny little birds and we are all enjoying watching them. Also, I’m enjoying reading your blog! Thank you so much for sharing your perspective.

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