Nearly six years ago, my wife and I were walking towards an auditorium to attend our son’s pre-school graduation performance. As we walked from the parking area toward the building, my wife heard faint meowing. We paused and listened intently, and indeed there was a high-pitched, almost squealing, desperate meowing coming from nearby. We tracked the sound until we found the source in some nearby bushes: a tiny black baby kitten. It was both terrifying and heart-wrenching to look at: the poor thing was not more than a few weeks old, and so deprived of food or nourishment that it was near-skeletal-skinny and had lost most of its fur. It resembled a wingless bat more than a kitten. Why it was so malnourished was obvious and the most horrendous aspect of this miserable creature: it had no eyes. It had two empty, infected eye sockets, and two streams of crusted, dried pus down its face. How the poor thing had managed to survive even an entire 24 hour period was staggering.
My wife and I decided to give the poor thing a chance to survive. She watched over it while I went back to our car and found a shoebox-sized cardboard box. I placed the box sideways with the opening near the cat, then gently nudged it into the box with my foot. (No matter how bad I felt for the little guy, I wasn’t going to risk using my hand and having a wild, terrified, possibly-diseased little street cat bite me.) He howled with squeaky terror as I did this, but what can you do? I carried him back to the car and put the box in the trunk, and put some drinking water in a bottle lid in the box with him.
After the performance ended, together as a family we drove to a 24-hour vet and took the little guy inside. The vet cleaned up his face, fed him, checked him out. His eyes really were gone, they were not sunken in or “deflated” due to severe malnutrition. They appear to have been ripped out of his head, but by what, or who, or even how were all impossible to speculate accurately. The vet estimated that he’ll probably die, that he’s too far gone. Nevertheless, we told him that we’ll pay in advance for 72 hours of care, medicine, food, whatever. If his condition improves we’ll keep him; if he can’t recover, we’ll pay for him to be mercifully put to sleep.
Two days later the vet called us. “He’s doing great! He recovered stupendously. He’s all yours. Come get him.”
Uh oh. What now? How do we raise a blind street kitten? We already have a 2-year-old cat; will he accept this new cat?
Long story short, all went well. We kept both cats separated in different areas of the house for a week. They both smelled each others’ scents, and were very curious to meet each other. Their first interaction was captured in the video I took below, which I posted on YouTube years ago.
The two cats quickly became best friends, the older one (“Fat Kitty”) becoming a guardian of the blind one (“Blind Kitty”). In fact, any time Blind Kitty would meow anywhere in the house, Fat Kitty would immediately rush to his side and give him a reassuring nudge and comforting meow. It was surreal to watch this older cat have such empathy and care, and to even express it in the way he meowed. It was obvious that he understood that the little black thing could not see.
Three years later, our beloved Fat Kitty died. However, we still have Blind Kitty.
And as you can see in the pictures, he no longer looks like a wingless bat. He’s healthy and quite fat. He has developed his other four senses to the point where he moves around the house with complete confidence, as if he can see just fine.
A couple of long stories short:
- Early on, he developed his own system of echolocation by breathing loudly. In the first few months we raised him, he’d often bump into walls or objects as he walked or ran. Then one day, we noticed that he’d deftly detect obstacles or walls just prior to hitting them, and would change direction quickly. Whenever he’s introduced into a new environment, he’ll immediately begin “feeling out” the room’s boundaries and stationary objects within – then usually find a location where he thinks he’s hidden and secure. One of the most hilarious aspects of owning a blind cat are the instances where he thinks he’s good and hidden and no one can find him – and he’s practically in the middle of the room.
- We used to have to wrap him up in a towel tightly once a week, then drop hydrogen peroxide into his eye sockets to keep them from getting infected. The first few times we did this, he howled and writhed as if we were shoving ice picks into his head; but then he started getting used to it, as if he figured out that after these horrible incidents the pain and itching would decrease. His sockets were like two non-healing open wounds. They would stink badly, too; and he’d often rub his paws around his face to relieve the itch. After several months, we took him to the vet to get his eye muscles removed and his eyelids stitched up. That solved the problem; he’s been infection-free and much happier ever since.
- During that same vet trip, while he was still out, we had his fore-claws removed and had him neutered. For all you anti-declawers out there, blind cats are a very legitimate exception. We had to keep him from climbing up everything, then greatly endangering himself in trying to get down without being able to see where he’s jumping down to — such as onto a stove, or kitchen counter with knives. That, and he over-relied on his claws, apparently due to compensating for his disability. Numerous times I’d have an arm on the couch armrest, and without warning I’d suddenly have ten grappling hooks lodged into my arm – attached to a blind cat who just wanted to jump onto the side of the couch. I still wince thinking about those incidents.
Today, nearly six years after discovering him, he’s a safe, happy, well-fed, and very loving cat. He loves all of us, but for some reason he loves me the most. Everywhere I walk in the house, he follows me, and will rub his head and body around my calves whenever I stand still. If I sit at my desk, he follows me there and plops down at my feet. If I lie down, he jumps on the bed and curls up next to my feet. He wants to be anywhere I am… but he doesn’t like it when I hold him. I love to hold cats and cuddle them and really scratch their head and under their chin to get them to pur. But Blind Kitty won’t let me. Whenever I pick him up, he pushes away from me, strives to be put down, even meows complainingly if I refuse to let go of him. When I do, he goes right back to rubbing against my legs, and following me like a shadow. It’s puzzling, but it’s sweet. Even now as I type all this, he’s curled up next to me, sleeping soundly.
Several weeks ago, I realized that I’m a lot like Blind Kitty in my relationship with Christ. I want to be everywhere Christ is — I crave to have Him near me. However, I don’t want to see Him. I don’t need to see Him. Perhaps Christ wants to hold me and comfort me, but I push Him away, insisting that I’m not good enough to be treated that way — I don’t deserve that — just let me be near you. Let me go anywhere you go — let me curl up near your presence — I don’t NEED to see. I don’t need to be cuddled, and I don’t want to take up your precious time and attention to be fawned over — I just want to be near you, next to you, following you, resting in your proximity.
When the day comes that I am in Christ’s presence, I don’t want to look at Him. I don’t want to look at Him because I feel I’m not good enough to let my eyes see Him. It’s not guilt — it’s denying myself of what I yearn for most. I imagine myself facing the ground, crawling to Him, then kissing His feet, weeping, taking His hand, feeling the print in His palm, then putting His hand to my eyes and begging Him to remove my sight.
Please, O Lord, who can heal all men of any infirmity — make me blind! — take away my sight so that I cease relying upon it over the other senses You have given me. Make me like my blind cat, that I might strengthen the weaknesses of my other four senses. After I have strengthened those weaknesses, then please allow my sight to return. Then, and only then, will I permit my eyes to behold You.
I imagine all this, and I desire all this, but do I have the strength to actually ask for it? To actually go through with it? If a chance like that presented itself, could I really do that? Or will I cave in to my deepest desire and behold my Lord?
My blind cat inspires me to think that I could actually ask the Lord for such a challenge.