When we saw Shadow and his siblings Loki and Odin on Instagram, we wanted to know more about the three of them found a forever home together in Winterthur, Switzerland. We also wanted to find out how Shadow (who recently had his remaining eye removed) and Loki lost their vision and Odin lost one of his eyes. Their mom Anna graciously agreed to share their story, including the tragic loss of Hana, the fourth kitten in the litter, and how her passing led to Shadow and Loki’s bittersweet reunion with their brother Odin.
We also learned some common myths about blind cats, and Anna told us about someone common misconceptions people have about visually-impaired felines. We really enjoyed learning about Shadow, Loki, and Odin, as well as their late sister, Hana, who is dearly missed by both of her parents. We hope their story will help change the way you think about visually-impaired and special needs cats!
Meow As Fluff: How did you end up meeting Shadow?
Anna: In 2020, my partner and I moved into a new apartment, which finally allowed us to have cats. We both always wanted kitties of our own, so we decided to adopt a pair from a local rescue [Katzenfreunde Schweiz]. We ended up falling in love with a special litter: four kittens whose eyes got badly damaged by the cat flu when they were young.
Two would keep an eye each, two would remain blind. This did not bother them — they were playful, spunky and super cute. We loved them from the start, especially Shadow: he was the only black kitten (the rest were gingers) and he was so curious and cuddly.
But we didn’t dare adopt blind cats as our first cats. So we adopted the two one-eyed kittens, Odin and Hana, in January 2021.
Someone else adopted the blind ones. Unfortunately, half a year later our sweet Hana passed away from a sudden illness.
Odin needed a playmate, and so we contacted the rescue again. Imagine our surprise when they told us his blind siblings had been returned just a few weeks prior! We still thought we weren’t ready for blind cats — or three cats! But when we met them, Shadow immediately climbed onto my shoulder and sealed the deal for him and for his sister Loki. They came home at the end of June 2021.
MAF: Did you have any concerns about adopting blind cats?
A: Shadow and Loki were our cats’ litter mates and we felt attached to them as soon as we met them again in 2021. We loved them and the blindness suddenly didn’t matter at all.
MAF: Can you tell me a little bit about the cause of Shadow and Loki’s blindness?
A: The whole litter had the cat flu as kittens. When the rescue found the babies at five weeks old, their vet wanted to put them down at first because they looked so bad. But they were so happy and playful that the rescue gave them a chance, for which we’re eternally grateful.
MAF: What are some of the biggest misconceptions you think people have about blind cats?
A: There are so many!!! We googled blind cats before adopting and found a bunch of articles saying we could never move our furniture, or that the cats would get lost if carried from one room to the next, and other outlandish advice. Shadow and Loki debunked these misconceptions within their first week with us! They love new and moved furniture, they can find anything and they always, always know where they are.
Having Loki and Shadow and especially sharing them on the internet really opened my eyes (excuse the pun) to the huge amount of ableism in the world. So many people automatically assume that, just because they’re blind, they must be miserable. Nothing could be further from the truth. We should rethink our assumptions for the sake of disabled animals and people.
MAF: Can you tell me the story behind Shadow and Loki’s names?
A: Loki is named after the Norse trickster god, and the name suits her extremely well. Shadow is named for his looks, but also for the title character from Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods, who also has ties to the Norse pantheon.
MAF: What are some of their favorite activities?
A: Shadow and Loki absolutely adore cuddles, food and clicker training! Shadow’s other big love is his furry mousie toy: he spends hours throwing it around. Loki loves chasing her sighted brother around the house and playing with loud toys at 5 am, because she’s an adorable little monster.
MAF: What do they mean to you?
A: They mean the world to my partner and I. For me personally, they have led me to learn so much more about animal behaviour and about cat senses, which are very, very different from our own.
To learn more about Shadow, Loki, and Odin, you can follow them on Instagram.