The sentence "I have a cat" (or another frequently repeated cat phrase; there are three of four of them) serves three purposes for me:
1. It's a filler, much like your "um" or "uh."
2. It's comforting when I'm anxious.
3. It's almost like a verbal tic.
I can't remember now what brought it to my attention, but I realized in the last week or so how much I talk about cats. I mean... by any standard, it's a lot. "I have a cat" pops in mid conversation (as does, "My cat is pretty, right?" or frequently in my head or to the cat herself, "Don't worry, Elsie. You're a better cat than any of them," which is from a Disney thing.) Sometimes it's just chatter about cats, my cat, your cat... any cat.
Mom and Leigh both report, er, frustration and fatigue regarding the cats, and I'm guessing that other people feel the same way and haven't told me. When the therapist asked the group "if she really does it that much," they all responded with an emphatic yes. They are right.
My therapist suggested that I use a technique that is used for people who are extremely shy. She said I can write a list of other things I like and refer to it frequently in order to find other topics to discuss. I'm working on this. It's hard.
I want to talk about cats. It's fun and enjoyable and it makes me happy. Yes, it's compulsive... but I like it.
I must admit some annoyance at those who do not want me to talk about the cats. I don't particularly care about some things others talk about, but I do my best to listen, you know?
But, the world can't cater to autism, so autism must cater to the world. And so I shall try.