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My blind cat: living with Spencer

Updated on December 5, 2009

I walked into the post-anesthetic recovery room at the William H. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital where I worked. It was late in the day and I was to begin my afternoon shift taking care of dogs and cats as they woke from their procedures.

As I passed through the door, to my right I saw him. He sat huddled in a ball, a small black and white tuxedo cat with his eyelids sewn shut. He seemed to notice I was looking at him as I gasped at the cuteness before me.

"What is THIS"? I asked the woman I worked with.

"A stray" she replied.

I glanced at his record. A shelter cat relinquished because he "caused an allergy", this 5 month old kitten was called "Rover". He had come to the hospital for a neuter and to have his eyes removed, what is called a 'bilateral enucleation'. He was set to return to the shelter the following day. Studying the medications that he was given to induce and maintain anesthesia, I decided it was safe to open the cage door. I picked him up and held him close, deciding right then and there he would not be going back to the shelter. He was coming home with me.

Images of my little blind boy

Spencer resting in a comfy loaf.
Spencer resting in a comfy loaf.
Spencer's favorite toy: feathers on a cord!
Spencer's favorite toy: feathers on a cord!

Spencer was born with two ocular conditions that rendered him blind. One is called 'micro-ophthalmia' or, tiny eyes. His eyeballs were so small and they never fully matured to give him sight. Secondly, he had 'eyelid agenesis', that is, his eyelids never grew. His tiny little eyeballs were like dried up raisins in his head. He was born blind and never knew the difference. The Ophthalmologists at UC Davis decided it was best to remove the useless things.

Spencer was slowly introduced to my other three cats. It was my first time owning a blind cat, and I was curious as to how he would get along; with my other cats as well as the environment he would live in. They watched him from afar as he rested in his enclosure. They attempted eye contact with him, and seemed visibly upset when he wouldn't return their gazes.

I shouldn't have worried. Spencer's other senses developed unlike anything I could imagine. He quickly learned the layout of the house, eventually running down the halls and jumping onto furniture like a seasoned pro. Spencer had quite an acute sense of hearing; he began hunting and eventually catching and eating flies and moths which sought refuge from the cold breezes outside my country home.

I watched Spencer grow from a small kitten to a healthy adult cat. He would often sit on a chair near the kitchen and orient his senses towards me as I cooked and cleaned. I still speak of him "watching" me, even though I know it's impossible. His ears act like radars, his nose is a finely tuned machine. He could smell a slice of turkey in the next room, and often had to be escorted out of the kitchen, lest his curiosity cause him to be stepped on, or worse.

I have often been asked what it is like having a blind cat. Does he knead soft things? Does he play? How does he find his way to the litter box?

It's usually the same answer, time and time again. Spencer has been one of the biggest joys in my life; he is smarter than the average cat and learns things very quickly. It takes him two days to learn a new house; he automatically knows where the food is located, and he is an accomplished clown, often chasing my sighted cats around the house or 'hiding' in plain view. He loves his scratching post. He never misses his litter box (even though it is cleaned daily). He is unequivocally the bravest cat I have ever known: he has no reason to fear anything, thus his safety is of utmost importance to me. As well, his curiosity can get the best of him and his environment must be maintained for his sake.

There have been owners of pets that consider putting their pets down because the animal may become blind for one reason or another. I wish I could show them just what a blind animal can be: healthy, happy, playful, a joy to care for, and fun to be around.

Blindness is never a good reason to euthanize an otherwise healthy pet.

Spencer would agree!

 

 

 

 

Comments

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    • profile image

      Adriana 

      3 years ago

      I appreciate your kind and geuroens advice a lot!. I have been trying it hardly and did not get those amazing results!. It is nice to see that you got my comment in a good way!God bless you!VA:F [1.9.10_1130]please wait VA:F [1.9.10_1130](from 0 votes)

    • profile image

      Heidi 

      5 years ago

      Thank you for this story. I now have a blind cat that adopted us when she still had some sight. She is a wonderful perfect pet, and I hope stories like this encourage others to adopt blind pets!

    • profile image

      Sue 

      6 years ago

      I loved reading about Spencer. I adopted 2 rescue kittens (brother and sister) when they were 7 months old. Spencer, the boy and Sammie the girl. Sammie was born blind, but she is totally amazing. Like your cat she is so clever and can do everything Spencer does. Her other senses are so developed that she plays, runs, jumps and climbs just like any other cat. Aslo, not all blind cats have to be indoor cats. (this obviously depends on location and situation). We live in a rural area with no through traffic and a safe garden and Sammie goes outside every day. She is only allowed out when someone is home but she loves it. She can be a bit of a pickle to catch if she doesn't want to come in tho!!! She has mapped the garden just as she has the house and knows where every bush and step is. She can climb a tree with no fear, she catches insects easily, and once even grabbed a squirrel. Totally remarkable and utterly adorable cat. She is 2 an a half now and we love her so much.

    • profile image

      Lucci 

      7 years ago

      such a brave boy =)

      I wish my cat Nella could meet Spencer, he's an equally tough boy and is also completely blind. His left eye has already been removed and he is about to have his right eye removed very soon. Reading spencer's story makes me feel very relieved about Nella's future.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Very beautiful story, Spencer is so cute !

    • profile image

      Sarah 

      8 years ago

      I am about to adopt a blind kitten with the same condition that you explain Spencer to have. I was merely keeping my friend company on a visit to the shelter because she wanted a dog.

      I have a soft spot for critters that are so called "unadoptable" or "imperfect" and when I laid eyes on this little one I knew I was going home with another kitty! I've always said that I would always adopt adults before kittens but I just can't help it in this case!

      She is at a no-kill shelter but I put her on hold first because I didn't want to take her home until I got my house ready for her and did as much research as I could about blind kitties- which is how I found your post.

      Thank you for posting your story- you've made me even more excited!

    • Jennifer D. profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer D. 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Hi Beth,

      It makes me wonder if perhaps the cat that your son found wasn't dumped by his previous owners. Maybe they learned about his "disabilities" and decided they didn't want the responsibilities.

      There certainly is something special about an animal without all its faculties.

      I commend you for giving the little guy a home! This planet needs more caring people such as yourself.

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 

      8 years ago from Canada

      I took in a stray cat that my son had found in the country. He adapted to home life easily -- playing with the kids and dogs and finding his away around the farm without any problems. It wasn't until 2 weeks later did I find out from the vet that he was blind and deaf. He gave no indication that he was either and was a joy to have. I agree with you, blindness is not a good reason to put a pet down.

    • Jennifer D. profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer D. 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you, drchrischasse, rocketjsqu and Tatjana-Mihaela for reading and commenting on my Hub about Spencer. He is a very special boy and I find that I am so lucky to have him. He has taught me so much about love and life.

    • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

      Tatjana-Mihaela 

      8 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

      Wow! So beautiful story and so touching. Spencer is certainly is very lucky cat. Animals never stop amazing us with their intelligence and ability to adapt to challenges.

    • rocketjsqu profile image

      Ron Karn 

      8 years ago from Gainesville, NY USA

      We had a deaf albino(even had the pink eyes) cat who lived a long healthy life. You could clap your hands and make all kinds of noise and you would get no response what so ever.

    • drcrischasse profile image

      Cristopher Chasse 

      8 years ago from Boston

      Way to go Spencer

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