Friday, December 2, 2011
When a tiny homeless kitten was just a wee lad of three weeks, he developed a terrible eye infection. His eyes were surgically removed to save his life, but that was not the biggest obstacle the brave little kitty would face. Finding a forever home for a blind kitten is a daunting task, and his fate seemed all but sealed. Luckily, he met a kind woman named Gwen who knew at once that she loved this plucky little ball of fur despite his handicap. She took him home and named him Homer.
That decision proved to be life-changing for Homer and for Gwen, as this spirited kitty who didn’t know he was different has taught Gwen many things. Among them, that “love isn’t something you see with your eyes.” Gwen wrote a book about her life-changing decision to adopt the little blind kitten no one wanted, and Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat became a national bestseller. It’s a wonderful book that would make a great Christmas gift for a cat lover, and Gwen gives 10% of her royalties to charities that serve blind cats. Homer graciously agreed to an interview so our readers could get to know a little more about him. You can also follow Homer on Facebook!
JW: Why does your Mom call you a Wonder Cat?
Homer: Because of how amazing I am! ;-p Seriously though, nobody ever expected a blind cat like me to be able to do much. So the fact that I can do everything any other cat can do— and even some things they can't—makes mom say that I'm a real wonder!
What are some of the challenges you face not being able to see?
It takes me a little longer to learn my way around new rooms (although once I learn where everything is, I never forget!), and if my mom leaves something like a pair of shoes lying around, I usually trip over them. Mom says I force her to be neat, which is a good thing! I used to be more startled by loud noises if I didn't know where they were coming from, but my mom always made me feel very safe and secure. Loud noises haven't scared me much since I was a kitten.
If you could have your sight for just one day, what would you most like to see?
I'd most like to see the faces of everyone in my family. I know what they look like in my head, but not what they really look like.
I hear you have a talent for catching flies in mid-air. How do you do that?
My sense of hearing is very strong—stronger than most cats. I can hear exactly where the flies are, and if I listen carefully enough I can even tell how they're moving. You'd be surprised how easy it is to catch them when you can hear them as well as I do!
What are some of the other amazing things you can do?
I can tell which sealed can has tuna fish in it, even though I can't see the shape of the can. And I can tell the second my mom has woken up in the mornings by how the sound of her breathing changes. As soon as her eyes open, I run over to her so she can give me a good morning scratch behind my ears.
How did you chase away the intruder who broke into your home?
That was a scary night! I think the intruder got scared because of how loud I growled when I thought he was going to hurt my mom. I even tried to scratch him with my claws! And mom says it was probably startling for him to see a cat without any eyes—I'm sure he didn't know what to think of me. Hee!
Are there other pets in the home? What kind of relationship do you have with them?
I used to have two sis-furs, Scarlett and Vashti. We lost Vashti last year after a long battle with chronic renal failure. She was always very patient and gentle with me (she was a very sweet cat). Mom says Scarlett and I have a “roadrunner and coyote” relationship. I like to chase Scarlett around and force her to play with me. She doesn't always feel like playing, so sometimes she gets mad. But we're still good friends! We even take naps together all the time.
How old are you now? Has it gotten easier to get around your home as you get older?
I'm almost fifteen. I still get around just as well as I always have— I can still jump just as high and run just as fast.
Do you see yourself as any different from other cats, or just the same minus the eyes?
As anybody who lives with cats know, every cat has his or her own personality. The ways that I'm different from other cats have nothing to do with being blind. Even though I'm a “senior cat” now, I'm still very playful all the time. Mom says I act more like a kitten than most cats my age do. But other than that, I think I'm probably like most other cats.
What is your favorite thing to do?
Curl up in my mom's lap while she's writing. She says I'm her "ins-purr-ation!"
Your Mom’s book is a New York Times best seller. What do you think it is about your story that has captured the hearts of so many people?
Times are very hard right now, and I think people like hearing about someone like me—who had so many odds against him— overcoming those odds and living a good life anyway. Sometimes it's hard to remember how much we can all do if we just believe in ourselves.
What do you like most about being a Celebricat?
I think the best thing is that so many people who've read my story have decided to give a “special needs” cat a chance. People have written to us and said that they wouldn't have done so before reading my story, but now they realize how amazing living with a special-needs pet can be.
If you could tell people something about blind cats that they might not already know, what would it be?
That a blind cat, in the end, is just a cat who is every bit as capable of loving you and living a wonderful life as any other cat. Too many people didn't want to adopt me as a kitten because I was “different.” But just because someone's a little different doesn't mean they're too different to love.
Read more articles by Julia Williams