They’ve overcome ENORMOUS odds, but the incredible felines of the Blind Cat Rescue now have a happy homes.
Popcorn is a pure white kitty who was found lying in the middle of a road. “The lady driving by her was shocked when she raised her head,” says Alana Miller, founder of Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary. “She stopped to help, bless her, and quickly realized she was in over her head with this cat, so contacted us. Popcorn came to us very sick – not only did she have no eyes, but she was covered in fleas, very anemic, and had a tumor growing out of her ear.”
That was nearly four years ago. Today, while Popcorn still has serious health issues, she’s living a happy and contented life at Alana’s sanctuary in St. Pauls, North Carolina (blindcatrescue.com).
“My guess is that she is now approximately eight to ten years old,” says Alana, adding that Popcorn is fearless despite being blind. “She used to race across the shelving to chase her arch enemy, Nicky – she really didn’t like him for some reason, but has mellowed with age and time!” Unfortunately, Popcorn’s antics one day led to a broken rear leg that ended up having to be amputated. To add to her issues, the serious surgery she needed for her ear tumor left her with vestibular disease. But Popcorn has taken her multiple disabilities in stride, and is an ongoing inspiration to Alana and her volunteer helpers.
Popcorn is just one of dozens of cats who make their homes in a comfy, cage-free environment at the nearly ten-year-old sanctuary, which also includes a more recently-built facility especially for FELV and FIV-positive cats. Her housemates include Gina, another kitty that stands out in Alana’s mind.
“Gina came to us in 2011,” she says. “At nine years old, she was dumped at the Manhattan Animal Control Center in New York City by her last owners. The paperwork said they’d had her for one year and no longer wanted her. Who knows how many other homes she has had. She came to us with rotted teeth, glaucoma, and two large uterine tumors.”
Thanks to two caring volunteers, Gina was rescued from the animal control facility and driven the long distance from NYC to Alana’s sanctuary. After receiving veterinary care, which included removing her eyes and uterine cysts, and extensive dental work, Gina soon settled contentedly into her new home. “She is a sweet loving girl, gives kisses, and likes to hang over things,” says Alana. “She is very sweet, considering everything that has happened to her. It is nice seeing how far she has come, and to know that she finally has a forever home.”
And then there’s Snicker, who was just a stray kitten when he found his way to the sanctuary. Though Alana knows little about his background, he, like Popcorn and Gina, was sick when he
arrived, with infections in his eyes that led to blindness, and an upper respiratory infection. Also like Popcorn and Gina, Snicker has risen above his health issues to become a much-valued member
He loves humans, likes to sit on top of the desk chair when we are working on the computer, and always appears to be smiling.
Alana explains that there are many reasons why cats can lose their sight. “They can be born that way, or become blind from diabetes, hyperthyroid, upper respiratory infections, and from not being wormed. Worms will migrate around the cat’s body, including up behind the eyes where they destroy the optic nerves.” However, she stresses that a blind cat isn’t a helpless cat. “They develop an amazing sense of hearing,” she says, adding that they also use their sensitive whiskers to fi nd their way around. A blind cat can enjoy an excellent quality of life that includes play, exercise, affection and interaction. That’s certainly true of Popcorn, Gina, Snicker, and the many other vision-impaired felines that Alana has given a forever home too.
Tips for living with a blind cat
Living with a vision-impaired cat is very similar to living with a sighted one. There are just a few things to keep in mind.
- Keep his litter box, and food and water bowls in consistent locations, so he can easily and quickly find his way to them.
- Try not to move furniture around any more often than you have to.
- “If you pick up a blind cat and move him from point A to point B, try to put him down where he has a good idea of where he is – in the litter box, at his food bowl, or where the floors have different textures.”