When Sarah O’Hearn’s friend — who works at Cocheco Valley Humane Society in Dover, New Hampshire — contacted her about fostering a deaf and blind Maine Coon cat named Stephen who had recently been surrendered to the organization, she and her boyfriend agreed to help.
“He spent every waking minute just spinning and distressed in his cage,” explains Sarah. “Since my boyfriend works from home and we could have someone with him at all times, we decided to foster Stephen.”
By the time Stephen arrived at Sarah and her boyfriend’s home in September 2017, he’d already been through a lot, and he desperately needed a safe and secure place to rest his head. The person who actually brought Stephen to the shelter had purchased him from an animal hoarder over the summer, but she quickly discovered that she wasn’t up to the challenge of taking care of the deaf and blind cat.
“She had him for a month but he had extensive infections and needed a lot of medical care,” says Sarah, “so she surrendered him to the Humane Society so he could get the help he needed.”
A medical examination determined that Stephen was approximately seven years old, and he was born both blind and deaf, the result of a congenital condition that was most likely caused by inbreeding. Sarah and her boyfriend had never fostered a special needs cat before, so they didn’t know how much assistance Stephen would need, nor were they sure how this handsome deaf and blind cat would react to living with the couple’s dog.
Thankfully, Stephen pleasantly surprised them on both accounts. “Stephen immediately formed a strong bond with our Pomeranian, Tuukka,” says Sarah. “We discovered that he was an incredibly capable and adventurous cat and was content as long as he has another small animal to spend time with.”
It didn’t take long for Sarah and her boyfriend to build a strong connection with Stephen either, and on December 5, 2017, they officially adopted him, providing this fluffy Maine Coon cat with a loving forever home. Stephen, who’s been living with the couple and their dog Tuukka since September 2017, is enjoying life with his new family, and while he can’t see or hear, he doesn’t have any difficulty getting around.
“Stephen has no issue finding anything!” explains Sarah, including his food and his litter box. “When people meet him they’re always surprised at how well he navigates our home,” says Sarah. In fact, Stephen is able to climb stairs and jump on the furniture, just like any other cat, and he loves to explore.
Stephen also enjoys playing with his toys and cuddling with his parents, and he also likes wrestling with Tuukka, his Pomeranian pal: “They are pretty much inseparable,” says Sarah. Despite what many people think, having a deaf and blind cat hasn’t been all that challenging for Sarah and her boyfriend.
“The only real issue we have is that Stephen needs to be doing exactly what he wants to do when he wants to,” says Sarah. “Some nights he has to sleep in his own room since he wants to romp and play all night!”
Stephen, whose only faults are that he can be a bit headstrong and a little too playful at times — much like a typical cat — has been a wonderful addition to Sarah and her boyfriend’s home, and the couple doesn’t even really think of him as having special needs.
“Most of the time we forget Stephen is deaf and blind,” says Sarah. “He gets around so capably and is quite frisky for his age.” This fluffy Maine Coon cat, who was distraught and walking in circles when he was at the shelter, is happy and relaxed in his new home. Even though Stephen has been through so much, and he can neither see nor hear, he loves people and is never afraid to make new friends, something his mom finds inspiring. “I’m in awe of Stephen,” says Sarah, “he is so fearless friendly and gentle.”
To learn more about this remarkable cat, you can follow Stephen on Instagram.