While working as a student at a veterinary clinic, I met a blind tabby cat named Mr. Magoo and fell head over heels for him. Upon adopting him, I was astounded at how alarmingly normal he was – just like any other cat with vision.
The founders of Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary in St. Pauls, NC, were driven to establish a haven for these special kitties by their own similar experience.
Alana Miller and her daughter encountered Louie during their volunteer work at their local animal shelter and found that he, much like my Mr. Magoo, could run, climb, and play just like any other ‘normal’ cat. Soon, they welcomed a second, third, and fourth blind kitten into their home.
In 2005, Miller officially established the 501(c)3 non-profit rescue and sanctuary. All the kittens that have found their home there have been saved either from shelters where they were set to be euthanized or taken in from owners who were unable to care for their pets.
Blind cats make up for the loss of their vision by curling their whiskers forward to help them detect impending objects – much like a blind person would use a cane. Their hearing tends to get sharpened too, allowing them to use auditory cues to interpret their surroundings.
I once witnessed Magoo leap a foot into the air and snatch a moth out of thin air! He could actually hear the tiny wings fluttering. In the words of Cat Whisperer, Jackson Galaxy:
“They don’t know they’re blind. They just know they’re cats!”
There are many causes of blindness in cats – hereditary predisposition, glaucoma, cataract, and progressive retinal atrophy can affect older cats, while kittens often lose their sight due to untreated viral infections. Many animal shelters euthanize these animals due to their ‘special needs’ status and the lessened likelihood of finding a home.