In November 2016, Pia Agrawal lost the first cat she’d ever adopted, a handsome tabby named Little Pajamas who passed away after just 10 years with his mom. While Pia was deeply saddened by Little Pajamas’ passing, she knew she wanted to open her home and her heart to another cat, and she was inspired by Beth Stern to adopt a kitty with special needs. Beth — who is married to Howard Stern — is a well-known animal advocate who serves as a spokesperson for North Shore Animal League and even fosters cats for the Long Island rescue.
Beth has a penchant for special needs kitties, and she maintains a popular Instagram account where she shares videos and pictures of her foster cats, including felines who are blind or have neurological conditions like cerebellar hypoplasia. “I wasn’t aware of how amazing blind cats are,” says Pia, who follows Beth on Instagram, “until I started seeing photos and videos on her Instagram of her resident cats and some of the blind fosters they’ve rehomed.”
While browsing the website for Friends for Life, a rescue located near her home in Houston, Texas, in February 2017, Pia came across a photo of Butchie, a beautiful tortoiseshell cat who was born without eyes. Pia immediately felt a connection with the stunning tortie who was nearly three years old at the time, and she arranged to meet Butchie in the foster home where the young cat had spent the last seven months.
After meeting Butchie, Pia knew the blind tortie was the perfect feline friend for her, and she brought her home just a few days later. “When I first got her, I sent some videos around to friends and family of her exploring my apartment and chasing things around without letting on that she’s blind,” says Pia. “No one knew! I had to tell everyone.”
It’s not hard for Pia to forget Butchie is blind because this adorable tortoiseshell uses her senses of smell and sound to make up for her lack of vision. Like a typical cat, Butchie loves playing with toys, particularly ones that make a lot of noise, and she enjoys curling up with a heating pad or commandeering a cardboard box.
This beautiful tortie also likes to gather her toys into little piles, and she loves meeting new people, often showing off when Pia has visitors over. Butchie also loves stinky food and listening to her mom sing, and just like other cats, she’s obsessed with catnip. “Everyone asks me if she bumps into walls,” says Pia. “She doesn’t, unless she’s in a catnip frenzy.”
Still, people often feel sorry for Butchie when they first see her online or meet her in person, and while Pia knows they mean well, she’s adamant that this confident, bossy, and beautiful tortie doesn’t need sympathy. “People often greet the idea of her with pity,” says Pia, “as though I did a really good deed taking her in.”
However, Pia says Butchie has been her salvation, a feeling many people who have adopted pets — with or without special needs — can relate to. “I’d be lost without her,” Pia explains. “This year has been trying for many people, myself included, and her unending dedication to thrive, to survive, to love and be loved — just like any pet — has kept me going.”
In an effort to share Butchie with the world, Pia created an Instagram account for her special tortie girl, allowing her to become part of a growing online community of blind cats. Not only has the Instagram account helped Pia get advice about taking care of Butchie and giving her the best life possible, it has undoubtedly encouraged others to consider adopting special needs pets, just as Beth Stern inspired Pia.
However, there’s no one Butchie has inspired more than her mom, and Pia says her blind cat’s resilience helped her cope with the loss of her beloved kitty, Little Pajamas. “She’s such a strong animal and an inspiration to me,” says Pia. “I feel incredibly lucky to be her mama; this sightless cat taught me how to see.”
To learn more about this incredible cat, you can follow Butchie on Instagram.