Children are especially attracted to Richard Kitty with the “odd eyes”.
You don’t see it often, but every now and then, an animal (or person) is born with two different colored eyes. “It’s a genetic trait called heterochromia,” says Maya Tuttle, cat parent to Richard Kitty, a sleek white-and-butterscotch feline with one blue eye and one amber eye. You may have seen him on Instagram and other social media sites. “Our vet says it’s casually called ‘odd eyes’,” Maya continues. “With some cats, deafness in one ear is associated with heterochromia, but to my knowledge, Richard has no vision or hearing issues.”
It was serendipity that first brought Maya to Richard just over three years ago. “I was at a local coffee house when a pet adoption fair flyer caught my eye,” she explains. “I had been thinking of adopting a cat, so drove over to check it out. Towards the end of the day, I stumbled upon Downey’s shelter booth. I walked down the line of cats in their cages when I came upon a one-and-a-half-year-old orange-spotted white cat burrowing into a blanket and hiding his head in his paws, so frightfully shy of all the noise.”
Maya wasn’t able to see the cat’s eyes until she reached into the cage and he looked up at her. “I was immediately taken and asked the volunteer if I could hold him. About three minutes in, Richard Kitty buried his head in my arms, unnerved by the barking dogs and crowd chatter. I clearly remember the moment he snuggled into me for safety, because a warm feeling came over me and I thought, ‘Now I cannot let him go.’ I adopted him then and there.”
Once settled in his new home with Maya, Richard Kitty became less nervous, though he still gets a bit overwhelmed if there are too many people around. “With other animals, he’s a calm and cool alpha cat, and walks around like a leader,” Maya says. “But he gets very shy if there are more than five people in a room. He’ll bury his head in your arms if you’re holding him. When you’re alone with him, he’s incredibly affectionate. He sleeps on the bed with you at night. He demands petting time. He’s one of those cats who will continue to shower you with love until he is satisfied with the amount of love he’s receiving in return. I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
Maya posted “tons” of photos of Richard Kitty online. “I started worrying that I was overwhelming my friends with the number of cat photos I was sharing, so I made Richard his own Instagram account. As I posted images, I’d include hashtags like #cat and #catsofinstagram, so other cat lovers could find him and enjoy a peek into his life.” Before Maya knew it, Instagram’s official account discovered Richard. “They featured him as part of their #weeklyfluff series. Prior to this, I had about 300 followers; as soon as the feature went up, I got nearly 25,000 overnight! My phone was going nuts with notifications. I continue to post at least one photo a day of Richard’s life, showcasing his captivating looks and fascinating personality. Slowly but surely, @richard_kitty has grown to about 127,000 followers.” Richard also has his own Facebook and Twitter accounts, so you can follow him there too.
“Richard is especially captivating to kids and a lot of his Instagram followers are very young,” Maya says. “They love to ask questions about his eyes, and I find it a cool opportunity to respond to them about how it relates to genetic science. They boil over with excitement if Richard ‘responds’ to their questions. Another amazing experience has been the fan art his followers have done. I’ve seen pieces that, in my humble opinion, rival some of the most beautiful artwork I’ve ever seen. He has some incredibly talented fans and I feel lucky whenever one of them chooses to capture Richard in their artwork.”
Along with his remarkable eyes, Richard also attracts attention because he’s so sleek and healthy-looking. It’s not surprising, since Maya feeds him a high quality diet, and uses all-natural litter. “I’ve also been studying feline massage and practice on him daily,” she adds.
Maya’s experiences with Richard have brought home to her the benefits of adopting an adult cat. “I highly urge you to check out the adult cats at your local shelter. I often think of how close Richard was to death when I adopted him. Shelters are simply overwhelmed with homeless animals. Whenever I think about how Richard went from death row to having over 125,000 people following him on a daily basis – it blows my mind! I’m a huge proponent of adopting adult cats: they’re mellower, more mature, and if they’ve made it to the point of being offered for adoption, they’ve already proven themselves to be wonderful animals.” That’s certainly true of Richard Kitty!