Yesterday, I was sitting on the fireplace ledge, putting on my tennis shoes as I was getting ready to go for a walk. Scout was nearby, playing on her turbo-scratcher toy. She is our sightless cat, so we spend a lot of time encouraging her, saying things like, “Get it, Scoutie. You know where it is.” And she almost always finds whatever “it” is — a crinkleball, a mousie toy, the rubber drain cover that she steals from the bathroom.
Watching her out of the corner of my eye while tying my laces, I could see she was struggling to find the ball in the turbo-scratcher. She stretched out her left paw, feeling along the track. Before I knew it, I had a lump in my throat, a pang, tears welled up. Usually, I try to dismiss her blindness as unimportant, barely consequential, focusing instead on the things she is able to accomplish with little help from us. But this one moment (and my husband and I call it “having a moment” — whether we are awash in gratitude or sorrow, it is “a moment”), this moment, I let my guard down and my heart broke a sliver, knowing that she couldn’t see the ball on the track.
Her world is experienced through tentative paws softly tapping to make sure the ground ahead is solid, predictable, trustworthy. Her whiskers find the edges of things — the wall, a toy, the kitchen cabinets, the bathtub. She listens for footsteps and other meows, voices and music, motored monsters and buzzy, winged things. Her nose is the focal point of her face — absent beautiful cat eyes, your attention is drawn instantly to the pink smudge of cuteness–and it fills in the details of her day. She bobs her nose in the air, sniffing food, the other cats, my pants, husband’s boots, the rain, the tulips my husband brings me.
I imagine my little heartbreak was akin to watching your daughter miss the game-changing catch at a softball game. You can’t bear to see her disappointment in herself, her pained attempts at hiding embarrassment, the temples of her forehead holding back tears.
And more…wanting her to see how beautiful she is and how beauty follows her. I know I’m writing about a cat, and that there is no scientific evidence that cats can know beauty or even feel sorrow, let alone understand how I feel about them.
Still. I wish she could see my face. I wish she could see my husband laugh. I wish she could see the ball on the turbo-scratcher and how it whizzes by when she gives it a south-paw whack.
Here’s a sentimental video of the little girl from when I first found her and over the next eight months of her kittenhood.–from horrible eye infection to eyes removed, you can see she didn’t miss a beat.
Oof, you’re killing me here, Meg! So cute.
Hah! Teh cuteness is killing me.
That video is so great. I love cats, and Scout seems sweet. I’m glad she has such a loving home.
Thanks so much for watching. Yes, Scout is a sweetie.
She’s beautiful! My kitty has polyps in her ears, through to her throat. She’s due to have them removed, but she may lose hearing in one or both ears. The vet told me he has diagnosed “countless” cats and dogs who were deaf, and their people didn’t even suspect! Amazing.
Sorry to hear about your kitty! I hope that she is still able to hear after the polyps are removed. We have another cat, Bennie, who has a tumor in his ear and lost his hearing over the last year. He functions pretty normally, except that he is tilty and meows really, really loud. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
That was super touching. God bless Scout, and may you all have lots of joyful moments together for years to come!
Thanks for reading and for your warm thoughts, Daniel.
I agree with Daniel Nest. Really touching. Ty
Thank you, Debra! <3
I loved the video. It must be interesting to see how she adapted to losing her sight. I wonder if you rubbed the ball in something smelly if she would be able to track it. (Now I want a kitten!)
I’m glad you enjoyed the video, Marcy! What’s funny (well, not hah-hah funny) is that our oldest cat, Kobe, has sprayed that turbo-scratcher thing so many times, and we’ve had to clean it so many times as a result. (Get a kitten!)
Nothing breaks my heart like handicapped animals. And I mean nothing. I get positively weepy. I want to give all my money to help them (not that it’s much), I want to cuddle them and just weep. Those people who put photos of abused animals on Facebook? I can’t do it. Can’t. Do. It. So watching that video was a little bit of agony for me. It makes me feel like you are an angel and so is that kitty and I hope you both live happily ever-after.
I don’t know where this incredibly powerful emotion for animals comes from, but sometimes it annoys the hell out of me.
Oh, I know exactly what you mean, Natalie. I have the same problem. And I had to be really careful about what photos I posted on FB when Scout’s eyes were huge and infected. It was really hard to look at her when that was going on — she looked like a slestak (you might need to google that–don’t worry, though, it is a fake TV animal). But the vet couldn’t operate until she put on more weight. We had to wait it out two months. I won’t go into the details. I can say that your emotion for animals, though I’m sure it is just too painful at times, comes from the best, biggest part of your heart. And that’s a wonderful thing. It says a lot about who you are.
So touching and such an adorable little fellow:) Great written, this held me to the end!
Thanks so much, Kerlund! <3
Tears. Big, fat, sloppy crocodile tears. Thank god for animals. I had a cat for nearly 20 years. One day when he as about 18, he had a stroke that caused him to go blind. It took us a lot longer than I want to admit to notice that this cat was no longer going by sight to get around, but by feel. He was so special to me. Thanks for writing this and reminding me of him. 🙂
Wow…your cat lived nearly 20 years? I don’t think any of my cats have made it that long. Sounds like you took really good care of him. Cats are remarkably adaptable and smarter than we think–I’m not surprised that you didn’t realize right away that your kitty had lost his sight. Just yesterday, Scout came so close to catching a fly just by listening. She amazes me every day. Thanks so much for reading. Hugs to you
I had a moment just reading it, aww what a tale
Thanks so much for reading. <3
Small, innocent animals and children have such amazing adaptive powers. Enjoyed your video and story.
Thanks, Jacqueline! Just now saw your comment. They are amazingly adaptive.
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