When Sophie saw a Facebook post from World Animal Friends about Izzy, a beautiful ginger and white cat who lost her vision after being hit by a car while living on the streets of Bosnia, she felt an immediate connection with the blind feline. “She looked so small and helpless,” remembers Sophie.
Izzy was a little over a year old and heavily pregnant when she was struck by a car, causing her to lose her right eye entirely, as well as the vision in her left eye due to a detached retina. The ordeal also caused the young feline to lose all of her unborn kittens. In addition to the injuries to her eyes, Izzy suffered a fractured jaw and tail, and she went into respiratory arrest while she was on the operating table. “She really went through the wars, aged only one,” says Sophie.
While other people might have been reluctant to adopt a cat who had suffered such extensive trauma, Sophie was drawn to Izzy, knowing firsthand how incredibly resilient animals with special needs can be. “I’d adopted my first blind cat Puzzle, who was also deaf and very old, because nobody else wanted her, and she was at risk of being put to sleep,” explains Sophie. “She was wonderful and adapted to our homes incredibly.”
However, when Sophie learned about Izzy in 2019, she was still mourning the loss of Puzzle, who had passed away a year earlier, and she wasn’t sure she was ready to open her home and her heart to another pet. “I had only just started to get over it,” remembers Sophie.
Despite her reservations, Sophie felt compelled to complete the adoption application, and to her surprise and delight, it was approved, but she had to wait several months before Izzy was able to travel from Bosnia to her home in Manchester, England. “She came to the UK in a 3-day journey in a van with lots of other cats and dogs who were also being adopted,” explains Sophie, and on December 15, 2019, she and her husband Alex finally met Izzy in person when she was delivered to their doorstep. “We immediately took her to her food bowl where she devoured three full bowls before she settled down for a long sleep! I slept in the room with her and woke up to find her nuzzled into me — love at first sight!”
Nearly a year later, Izzy and Sophie’s special connection is as strong as ever, and while she may not be able to see, this gorgeous ginger and white cat has no trouble navigating her forever home. “Izzy knows our house like the back of her paw and gets around absolutely fine,” says Sophie, proving blind cats really aren’t that different from their sighted counterparts despite what people often assume. “A friend couldn’t believe she was actually blind!”
Even though Izzy is incredibly active and independent, she has had some challenges, mostly due to entropion, a condition that causes her lower eyelids to turn inwards, allowing her eyelashes to rub against her remaining eye. Thankfully, Sophie manages this condition with regular injections and daily eye drops, enabling Izzy to live a relatively normal and pain-free life. “[She enjoys] eating, playing, chasing her brother, going out into the garden, cuddling, listening to birds, eating some more, and telling me she hasn’t eaten when she actually has,” says Sophie, proving Izzy really is a pretty typical cat.
In fact, while people often assume special needs pets require lots of help and assistance, Izzy has been a huge comfort to both of her parents, causing them to call her “Therapy Cat,” one of this adorable girl’s many, many nicknames. “My husband has a panic disorder and she is incredible at grounding him when he needs it,” explains Sophie. “If I am upset, she knows and she comes to sit with me and comfort me.”
While Sophie wasn’t sure if she was ready to adopt another cat when she saw Izzy’s face for the first time in 2019, she’s so thankful this beautiful girl is a member of her family. Like Puzzle, Sophie’s special needs cat who passed away in 2018, Izzy has proven that with a little patience, blind felines are more than capable of having happy and fulfilling lives.
“They can be the best cats — superheroes of the feline world!” says Sophie. “You’re doing a disservice to them if you discount them because you assume they’re hard to care for.”
In fact, Sophie has not only found blind cats to be relatively easy to care for, she’s discovered having a visually impaired pet can be extremely rewarding. After all, when Sophie saw a photo of Izzy for the first time, the young feline was battered and broken, but thanks to Rusmira — the woman who rescued her from the streets of Bosnia — everyone at World Animal Friends, and her incredible parents, this very special girl is thriving.
“She is so optimistic despite everything she’s been through, and she is really tuned in to our emotions,” says Sophie. “She means the world to me.”
To learn more about this adorable cat, you can follow Izzy on Instagram.