When Ezgi visited the animal shelter near her home in Sakarya, Turkey, where she’d been volunteering for the past four years, she dropped off a donation of dog food before checking out the cats who were available for adoption. A ginger and white kitten — who was approximately four months old in February 2016 — immediately attracted Ezgi’s attention with his unique appearance. “I thought his eyes were infected,” remembers Ezgi, “but then as I got closer, I realized he didn’t have eyes at all.”
Concerned about the young cat, Ezgi asked the shelter’s staff about the blind kitten, and she discovered he had been living on the streets until the man who had been caring for him — and a number of other homeless felines — brought him to the facility to have his eyes treated.
While the man offered to continue looking after the kitten following medical treatment, the staff at the shelter didn’t want the 4-month-old blind cat to go back to living on the streets, so they decided to keep him until they found him a forever home.
Ezgi offered to foster the kitten — who was named after Ray Charles — until he was adopted, and the shelter eagerly accepted. “I brought him home and the next day a friend of mine decided to adopt him,” says Ezgi. While it didn’t take long for Ray to get adopted, just four months later, Ezgi’s friend returned the little blind kitten to her. Even though she was disappointed for Ray, Ezgi welcomed the orange and white cat back into her home, thankful for the opportunity to spend a little more time with him before he got adopted again.
Ezgi watched in amazement as Ray mapped the layout of her house, allowing him to navigate his foster home just as well as a sighted cat. Being unable to see, Ezgi expected Ray to play with noisy toys that squeaked and chimed, so she was extremely surprised when he began batting around a simple piece of string. “That moment I realized he wasn’t living according to his ‘blind cat’ label,” remembers Ezgi. “He was just being a cat. He was missing eyes, but that didn’t mean he was missing being a cat. He wasn’t anything less.”
Impressed by Ray’s incredible strength and determination, Ezgi decided to adopt him, giving him a loving forever home. After officially adopting Ray, Ezgi got to work on the daunting task of introducing him to her four other cats. “Normally every time I adopted a new cat and introduced him to the rest, I used to let them hiss and growl and fight a bit,” explains Ezgi. “But Ray was defenseless and every time I wanted him to meet the gang, there was a huge fight.”
Being unable to see, these altercations were particularly stressful for Ray, and he often panicked and bumped into walls as her tried to run to a hiding place. Unwilling to subject Ray to this stress, Ezgi made the difficult decision to keep him in another room — separate from her other cats — for approximately six months.
During this time, she had each of her sighted cats spend one on one time with Ray until every one of them got along with the little blind cat. “There were times I was so desperate and sad that he was staying in another room,” says Ezgi. “I even thought of re-homing him again but I just couldn’t do it. We had already bonded.”
Fortunately, Ezgi’s hard work and dedication paid off, and more than two years after she brought Ray home for the first time, he has free rein over her house and is on good terms with her four other cats. Despite being unable to see, Ray is as happy and active as Ezgi’s other pets, and he has no trouble finding his food or litter box. “Every cat I have has had a problem with hte litter box — like pooping on the carpet or peeing at the corners of laundry — except for Ray,” explains Ezgi. “Ray has never had any problems with the litter box.”
Not only can Ray find his litter box, food, and water, this handsome blind cat has no trouble jumping on to the kitchen counters to pilfer his mom’s snacks. “He usually steals pickles, cherries, and olives and carries them around the house and onto the carpets and sofas,” says Ezgi. “That’s why we have so many stained things at home.”
Despite being unable to see, Ray also enjoys sitting by the window to listen to the birds and to take in the smells from outside, and he adores hanging out on the balcony with his mom, relishing the warmth from the sun on his fur. Being extremely playful, Ray even plays tag with his mom, which involves chasing after Ezgi, tapping her with his paw, and running away when she tries to catch him.
“He also loves sleeping next to people with his head on the pillow and his body under the covers,” says Ezgi. While people often think blind cats like Ray should be euthanized, Ezgi is confident this special boy has a wonderful quality of life.
Aside from making sure not to move her furniture around too frequently and being careful not to leave glasses and dishes on the edges of tables and counters, Ezgi hasn’t had to make a lot of special accommodations for Ray, proving blind cats are easier to look after than a lot of people seem to think.
“They live life to the fullest,” says Ezgi. “People shouldn’t feel sorry or bad for them. They don’t love you less than a seeing cat.” In fact, Ray is the most affectionate cat Ezgi has ever met, which is particularly impressive considering she has been volunteering at her local shelter for years.
While Ray is friends with everyone he meets, he has a special connection with Ezgi, the person who gave him a forever home after he was returned by his initial adopter. Instead of giving up when her other cats wouldn’t accept Ray, Ezgi persisted, determined to give this adorable blind kitty the chance he needed and deserved. “He is an angel to me — no matter what he does, I can’t get angry at him,” says Ezgi. “He taught me what happiness is. His world may be dark, but he lightens up ours every day.”
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