After losing her two beloved cats, Megra and Sophie, within a year of one another, Yvette was certain it would be a long time before she would be ready to open her home to another feline friend. However, six months after Sophie passed away at 17 years old, Yvette and her son were driving home on the Saturday following Thanksgiving 2018, when she decided to take a look at the cats who were available for adoption near her house in Friendswood, Texas. “I specifically said to my son that I only wanted to look into possibly adopting another cat,” remembers Yvette.
While her local animal shelter was closed, the PetSmart near Yvette’s home was holding an adoption event, so she and her son stopped to check out the available animals. There were plenty of adorable cats and kittens, but Yvette didn’t feel a special connection with any of them until she came upon a fluffy tabby kitten who was all by himself in one of the cages.
“Here is this pretty spunky kitten, about six months old, being a complete little terror and destroying and attacking the toy that was hanging in the cage,” remembers Yvette. “I watched him for a few minutes and he was hilarious!”
Unlike the other cats and kittens, when Yvette tried to get the young feline’s attention, he completely ignored her, seemingly indifferent to her attempts to interact with him. Instead of being deterred by the tabby kitten’s disinterested personality, Yvette was intrigued by the feisty feline, who was named Cupcake at the time. “I asked the lady at the adoption event if I could hold him and she said, ‘Yes, just be careful — he likes to bite,’ ” remembers Yvette. “I had him in my arms for about 30 seconds and he sunk his teeth in me like a vampire and he would not let go!”
Yvette instantly knew he was perfect pet for her, and when she told the representative from the shelter that she wanted to adopt him, the woman was understandably surprised. “She looked at me like I was crazy,” remembers Yvette. “That’s when she told me he was blind and gave me his back story.” Yvette discovered Cupcake was rescued from a field in Galveston Island, Texas, when he was just a couple of weeks old. The emaciated young kitten was taken to a nearby veterinarian who not only nursed him back to health, but also discovered he was blind.
While the vet was unable to determine the cause of the kitten’s blindness, he was eventually healthy enough to go to a local animal shelter for adoption. “He was kept pretty isolated for fear that other cats would bully him,” explains Yvette. “He ended up with a foster mom, but unfortunately, she kept him isolated too, with play time from his cage everyday, but by himself away from the other fostered cats.”
As a result of these well-meaning attempts to protect Cupcake from other felines, he was deprived of much-needed socialization, causing him to be relatively feral. “He developed a strategy for navigating around and protecting himself by biting and scratching everything he came into contact with,” says Yvette. However, Yvette was confident she would be able to handle the six-month-old tabby’s unusual temperament, but Cupcake’s foster mom wasn’t convinced and wanted some time to contemplate the potential adoption.
That evening, Yvette couldn’t stop think about the tenacious special needs kitten, so she emailed Cupcake’s foster mom, explaining why she thought she would be able to provide him with a great forever home. “She emailed me back immediately and said she was so happy I contacted her,” remembers Yvette. “After I left [the adoption event], Cupcake was pacing and smelling around and then laid down like he was sad, as if he was ‘looking’ for me.”
Both women agreed the fluffy tabby feline was meant to spend his life with Yvette, and a week later, she officially adopted him and promptly changed his name. “He was far from a cupcake,” says Yvette, so she named him after Ivar the Boneless, a character from one of her favorite shows, Vikings. “Ivar the the Boneless, although ruthless, was a survivor, known to be very smart and cunning.” Plus, Yvette learned Ivar had a hind limb that would give out from time to time, making it even more appropriate for her to name him after a Viking who was born with twisted legs.
More than a year later, Ivar is thriving in his forever home, although he has only recently learned how to climb. “We’ve always had to lift him up and down from where he wanted to go, but one day he was determined to climb onto my bed on his own,” says Yvette. “I wanted to help him so badly, but I could tell he was on a mission and when he finally got to the top of my bed he was so proud!”
After finally learning how to climb on his mom’s bed, Ivar was determined to figure out how to scale everything in his family’s home, and Yvette eventually installed shelves and got him a multi-level playhouse to help him enjoy his newfound favorite activity.
While he can climb up and down from high places like a typical cat, Ivar has a tendency to attack anything in his path, which Yvette believes is due to survival kills he learned as a blind kitten. “If he is walking along and runs into something he wasn’t expecting, he goes into full blown attack until he knows it’s not a danger to him,” explains Yvette. Consequently, she frequently has to remind her family not to leave objects like shoes on the floor because she doesn’t want to trigger Ivar.
Also, he still has a tendency to bite and scratch people, but Yvette believes Ivar has come a long way over the past 14 months. “There was a time we couldn’t even hold Ivar without him attacking,” says Yvette, “and now he lets us pick him up and give him kisses, and he comes up to cuddle, but always on his own terms. Patience and building trust have been the most essential part of helping Ivar live his best life.”
However, Yvette knows Ivar’s behavior isn’t typical of most blind cats, and she believes the vast majority of visually-impaired felines are even easier to look after. “Blind cats do not require major life changes,” says Yvette. “They adapt very well.”
Unfortunately, animals with special needs often have trouble finding forever homes, not only because some people think they are harder to care for, but also because many individuals assume they are incapable of having happy, fulfilling lives.
In Yvette’s experience, neither of these concerns are warranted, and she’s confident blind cats like Ivar are more than capable of thriving. “They adjust to their environment and develop skills to overcome challenges by using their remaining senses,” says Yvette. “With a loving family, they can have full and happy lives.”
Fortunately for Ivar, who was rescued from a field as a young kitten, he has a wonderful home with Yvette and her family. After all, not only does Yvette put up with his quirks and moodiness, she showers Ivar with the love and attention he needs to thrive.
Because she works from home, Ivar is her mischievous assistant and constant companion, and when he’s not laying across her laptop or tearing up important paperwork, this blind feline can often be found going for walks with his mom in his stroller or hanging out in his baby pool while Yvette tends to her garden. “I have plenty of human friends, but Ivar is my family and friend,” says Yvette. “He adds love and happiness to my life and I like to think I do the same for him. Ivar is my buddy, my best friend.”
To learn more about this handsome cat, you can follow Ivar on Instagram.