Every guide to settling a new cat into your home, says “prepare a room with toys and litter tray, to be their home for at least a week until they get used to it” As with my last cat, I prepared the bathroom, with litter tray, toys, food and a bed. And as with my last cat, within 10 minutes this new friend was eager to get out and explore the rest of the house.
Unlike my previous cat, this one is a blind, one-eyed boy cat. His remaining eye is permanently dilated, with mesmerising green shapes reflecting back the light. As his pupil didn’t contract under the vet’s torch, they concluded he had no sight in it. So as he began to explore the rest of the house, I anxiously would pick him up and drop him back in his litter tray every ten minutes or so, just in case. He continued to explore, gently walking into walls until he worked out where the doors were. I tapped his food bowl until he found it. Once fed and happy, he found my lap and cuddled up for a snooze.
And yes, he had no problem finding his way back to the litter tray.
Although his RSPCA/vet name is Robin, my friend’s husband is called Robin, so that would be a bit weird. I called him Fury after googling Nick Fury when someone suggested it, and I approved. I had picked him from the RSPCA shelter after searching for an indoor cat; I wanted the company of a cat, with none of the bird and small mammal murdering. When I went to visit him at first, he leapt up into my arms, purring madly and pushing his face into me – what a sweetie! And at home, he spent (and still does) a lot of time rubbing his face on things, I guess scent-marking them for easier navigation.
He’s extremely confident – within a day or two he owned the house, and happily coming to greet any visitors. He has the house sorted, and very rarely walks into things, only when he’s chasing a toy do I occasionally here a soft clang as he runs into a rail on the back of the sofa.
The RSPCA gave me his vet notes. I don’t know his history, although I was told that they had to remove one of his eyes as it was very diseased. His notes tell a story; some of the comments over the 3 months he was in treatment:
“…grey eye possibly needs removing…”
“…unable to take blood pressure – too aggressive”
“…not rehomable at this time.”
“…castrated and left eye removed…”
“…concerns about remaining eye…”
“…requires antibiotics & drip.”
“…probably completely blind in remaining eye.”
“Unsure if rehomable.”
“…stitches in eye removed, healed nicely.”
“…advise rehomed as house cat, may need remaining eye removed.”
Sounds so very different to the affectionate, confident young cat I have now.
As he is a lot younger than I expected, he needs a lot more attention and play. Toys that make noise, of course, are well chased, particularly crinkly toys. He might be blind but he knows a box, and loves to climb inside and sit, like any other cat.
But as I live alone and work full time (albeit from about 20 yards away), after a few weeks it was obvious he was still getting a bit bored. I started letting him out into our enclosed yard. For the first week I supervised, then I would leave him alone for ten minutes, call him back, give him a treat; the next day leave him alone for 20 minutes, and call him back with a treat, and so on, until he was outside for an hour. (The nearest road with occasional traffic is about 1½ miles away, our nearest busy road is a good 7 miles away).
Having watched a dunnock land right in front of him, and he barely noticed, I’m happy he won’t go on a killing spree. My 3 chickens, however… at first sight, the head chicken, Grey, went crazy, clucking and charging at a very confused Fury, while the other two, White and Brown, ran away. So I tried to only let him out when they were cooped up; one time I misjudged and went out to see what all the fuss was – Fury was chasing White chicken up and down the yard, the poor thing.
(Yes, the chickens are called white chicken, brown chicken and grey chicken, and the cat was very nearly called “cat” I’m not very good with names)
Now, all three chickens have clicked (clucked?) that if they stand still in silence, he doesn’t know they are there, but still I make sure he only goes out at the same time as the chickens if he is under strict surveillance.
And he is so happy, running about outside, but he still gets a bit over-confident about where a door is, and boop! Walks straight into the wall. He doesn’t even break his stride. The RSPCA send an agent out to check up on rehomed animals, she seemed amazed on her visit, stating that she’d never known a cat to not be hiding under the sofa, let alone sitting on it and demanding cuddles after just one month.
One evening recently, he’d been outside for a little while, and I went to my neighbour’s house to watch a film. I must have left the door open, because after about an hour he walked in like he’d always lived there, and sat down beside the fire. Such confidence!
One afternoon he was lying in a sunbeam, and I was stood at the window. When I turned round and looked at him, he was looking straight at me. I raised my arm as silently as possible, and he followed it; on closer inspection I could see that his pupil had gotten smaller, ever-so-slightly. He’ll follow a torchlight too, so I think he can see some light.
He is very vocal, and recognises linear raised bits in the wall as doors – he’ll scratch and try to open not only doors and cupboards he comes across, but also the skirting board, fireplaces, and bookshelves. And he then miows at me to open them for him.
Now I have a wee furry friend, who sleeps at the foot of my bed and wakes me up for purring cuddles at 6am. Being blind has seemingly zero effect on his general catness, and I wholeheartedly recommend a blind cat.