Saturday, July 9, 2011
It can be difficult for adult cats in animal shelters to find their forever home, since many people prefer to adopt a cute playful kitten instead. For cats with special needs, the chance of being adopted is almost nil. Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary (BCRS) was started in 2005 to provide a safe home for blind cats that are deemed unadoptable by regular shelters. This lifetime care facility for blind cats is located in St. Pauls, North Carolina on a 24-acre farm that’s also home to numerous horses, donkeys, chickens and turkeys.
Blind Cat Rescue is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that gives a second chance at life to kitties that have been certified by a veterinarian as being blind. Cats with 20% or less sight are accepted as blind. Most of the cats that come to the sanctuary will stay for the remainder of their life, although they could potentially be adopted out if the right family came along.
As often happens in life, Blind Cat Rescue’s inception came about through a twist of fate. In 2000, the organization’s founder, Alana Miller, was volunteering at a local rescue group with her daughter Stephanie. At an adoption event, a man brought in a tiny kitten he’d found; its eyes were crusted shut due to a severe eye infection. The rescue group didn’t have the resources to accept the kitten, and when the man said he was going to abandon it in the parking lot, Alana made a split-second decision to take it herself. From that day on, the Millers seemed to be a magnet for blind cats in need of a safe haven. When Alana realized they had become the go-to resource shelters would call when they had a blind cat, she decided to fully commit to the mission. Now, Blind Cat Rescue offers a safe, clean, climate-controlled home for approximately 40 special needs felines.
When she first started the rescue, Alana had no idea it would grow so much and that so many people would respond positively to their mission and want to help. “We thought we’d have a small rescue that would save a few lives, never imagining that it would become all that it has,” Alana said. “I believe we were all put here to change lives. It feels wonderful to know we’re doing that.” Like many nonprofits, Blind Cat Rescue relies on social networking sites to spread the word about their mission. It seems to be working, as they currently have 27,000+ fans on Facebook.
Because the nonprofit sanctuary relies on private donations, the number of cats they can take in is limited. As a result, Alana often counsels others who have blind cats in the hope that they won’t give up on their special kitty. She tries to help them see that despite the disadvantage of being blind, their cat can still be healthy, capable and a wonderful family companion. Blind cats can do the same things other cats do – like play with toys, groom themselves, use the litterbox, scamper up cat trees (and even real ones!) and be affectionate. “The cats don’t know they are blind,” said Alana. “They only know they are cats, so they act like cats.”
Blind cats may take longer to complete their routines, but they’re generally capable of accomplishing most tasks on their own. Like blind humans, blind cats learn to rely on their other senses like touch, hearing and smell. Consistency in the home can make it easier for a blind cat to get around; for example, keeping their cat food and litterbox in the same place.
Blind cats may not be able to see you, but they will still give you unconditional love as only an animal companion can. You can visit the Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary website to learn more about them or to find out how you can help them help with their very important mission.
Photo by Evan HB
Read more articles by Julia Williams