When Cerena Hammond returned to work at the ASPCA Kitten Nursery in Manhattan after recovering from a car accident that left her with a concussion and a herniated disc in her neck, she learned that she would would be responsible for a very special young cat named Oomi. “During rounds, one staff member mentioned that I had a new kitten in my section with ‘frog eyes’ that I’d be caring for,” remembers Cerena. “I went to go visit her in her cage, and even though she had very large, bulging eyes, she was so excited to be held and loved.”
Cerena discovered that Oomi was approximately four weeks old when she was brought to the ASPCA’s main building in October 2016 by a man who claimed to have found the cute calico kitten by the side of the road. “We don’t know if that was true or not and he left before filling out any paperwork on himself or Oomi,” says Cerena. A medical examination revealed Oomi’s eyes were in very bad shape, most likely due to an untreated infection, and they would both need to be removed once she was old enough to undergo surgery.
Having recently survived a traumatic car accident, Cerena felt a strong connection to Oomi, and within moments of meeting the blind kitten for the first time, she asked the foster coordinator if she could care for the young calico cat before and after the surgery to remove her eyes. “I got to take her home to foster when she was medically stable,” says Cerena. “Even with her big eyes, she loved to play and had a true kitten spirit.”
However, Oomi was an extremely picky eater, and she needed to gain weight in order to have surgery, so Cerena and her husband tried lots of different foods until they discovered one the little kitten enjoyed. “We found out she loves tuna and I was able to get her nice and chunky so she could have surgery,” says Cerena. While the vets wanted to wait until Oomi was a little bit older before performing the operation, when one of her eyes started to rupture, they realized the procedure couldn’t be delayed any longer.
Fortunately, the operation went well, and Cerena visited the ICU at the ASPCA Animal Hospital during her lunch break to check on her very special foster kitten. “She looked so helpless in her cage,” remembers Cerena. “Her eyes were gone and she had stitches holding them closed. She was woozy from the pain medications, but as soon as I held her, she started purring.”
When Cerena offered to foster Oomi, there was a part of her that knew she would probably end up adopting the adorable calico kitten, and following the surgery, she was certain she wouldn’t be able to part with the little blind cat.
Two weeks later, Oomi had made a full recovery, allowing her to be spayed and to have her eye stitches removed, and Cerena and her husband officially adopted her shortly before Thanksgiving 2016. “I actually surprised my husband with the adoption papers because he thought she wouldn’t be able to come home for another month or so,” explains Cerena. “He was crying — he was so happy!”
Nearly two years later, Oomi is enjoying life in her new home, and she copes so well with her blindness, her parents often forget that she doesn’t have eyes. “Even though she can’t see, Oomi somehow navigates our apartment like she can,” says Cerena. “Her whiskers have grown super long and she can sense where things are. It’s amazing to watch!”
However, Cerena and her husband have to make sure they don’t leave items laying around that Oomi could bump into, but otherwise, they haven’t had to make any other special accommodations for this happy and active girl.
“We call Oomi a little ninja because she’s great at finding and sneaking up on her toys,” says Cerena. “She chases butterflies outside in our garden and loves meeting new people.” While Oomi enjoys making friends, her mom has found that some people aren’t quite sure how to react when they meet this adorable blind kitty for the first time.
However, Oomi quickly wins them over with her outgoing personality and lust for life, demonstrating that blind felines are pretty similar to their sighted counterparts. “They are truly no different than other cats,” says Cerena. “Even though they can’t see with their eyes, their other senses make up for it.”
While Cerena and her husband adopted Oomi, they haven’t stopped fostering cats, and this sweet blind kitty is happy to have lots of feline friends to keep her company. “We foster a lot of kittens, especially bottle babies, and she loves to play with them,” says Cerena. “The fosters usually take to her immediately and follow her around.”
When Oomi isn’t spending time with her foster siblings, she enjoys ‘looking’ out the window at people and birds, and she loves hanging out with her mom and dad. “She adores her human dad and cuddles with him every chance she gets,” says Cerena. “She knows I’m the one to come to when she wants treats or to play with her toys.”
Oomi, who relied on her parents to help her before and after the surgery to remove her eyes, is now looking after Cerena who is pregnant with her first child. “Whenever you’re having a hard day, it’s like she knows and will come over and cuddle with you,” says Cerena. “She can even tell when my blood glucose levels are getting low and lays across my chest purring super loud until I check my sugar levels.”
Soon, this couple from Queens will have a new little bundle of joy to love and care for, but Oomi — who helped Cerena heal mentally after a serious car accident — will always be incredibly special to both of her parents, especially her mom. “We found each other right when we needed each other the most,” says Cerena. “She’s the most wonderful little fur baby I could have asked for! Oomi is our little ray of sunshine!”
To learn more about this beautiful cat, you can follow Oomi on Instagram.