When Emily met Murdock for the first time, the handsome blind and deaf cat was understandably nervous. After all, her mother was fostering Murdock and several other cats after the animal rescue he was living at in Naples, Florida, had to be evacuated due to Hurricane Irma in September 2017. “Once the storm passed, I came over to visit them,” says Emily. “Of course, he was pretty timid and we didn’t get to interact much.”
Not only was Murdock a bit uncomfortable being in a new environment, he’d had quite a difficult life before he ended up at the rescue. “He was in a large outdoor cat colony in a trailer park, and the man who had taken on the responsibility to feed them didn’t have the resources or knowledge to make sure all the cats were safe and healthy,” explains Emily. When Murdock arrived at the shelter, he was already partially blind and completely deaf due to an infection that had gone untreated.
Despite being shy about meeting new people, Murdock and Emily’s mom developed a very special bond, so she officially adopted the beautiful special needs cat at the end of 2017. During her frequent visits home from college in nearby Lakeland, Emily was able to spend more time with Murdock, allowing her to see the easygoing side of his personality. “He was more comfortable with his environment, and he was a pretty chill cat,” remembers Emily.
The following year, Emily’s beloved cat Miss Kitty passed away in July 2018, and her mother thought Murdock might help fill the void she left behind. Plus, she thought the blind and deaf feline would probably prefer living in a cozy apartment to a large house, so Emily adopted Murdock the following month. “Within a couple a weeks, I knew my mom had made the right decision,” remembers Emily.
More than a year later, Murdock — who is approximately nine years old — is doing great, and he and Emily have moved to a larger apartment that now includes a pair of bonded kittens. “They push his buttons, but they know he’s in charge and will actually get him to play with them sometimes,” says Emily. “Every now and then, he does get the zoomies, especially if the kittens are egging him on.”
However, Murdock prefers snuggling with his mom, and this laidback boy has never scratched or bitten Emily the entire time she’s had him. “He’s such a cuddle bug and one of the only cats that will just lay on his back and let me rub his belly,” says Emily. In fact, the only time Murdock has ever hissed at Emily is when she picked him up to go back in after his supervised time outside.
“His favorite thing ever is going outside, especially if there’s a patch of dirt that he can roll around in,” explains Emily. In addition to exploring the outdoors with his mom, this blind and deaf kitty enjoys sleeping, sunbathing on his cat tree, and playing with his catnip kicker and dangly ball toy, proving Murdock is a fairly typical feline despite being unable to see or hear.
“My only frustration is that he can’t hear my crazy cat lady talk to him — which may be better for him,” says Emily. From time to time, she also worries that Murdock feels like she’s not giving him enough attention because he can’t tell when she’s looking at him, but she makes up for it by giving him lots of physical contact.
Also, because he is blind and only able to see light, dark, and general shapes, Murdock occasionally wanders from room to room looking for Emily, unaware that she is right in front of him. “Sometimes he can’t see me even if I wave my arms back and forth dramatically to try and get him to see some movement to know that I’m in there,” says Emily.
However, these challenges are relatively minor, so much so that Emily doesn’t even consider Murdock to be disabled. To her, he’s an average cat in pretty much every way, except that he’s not the slightest bit afraid of the vacuum cleaner. “The vacuum doesn’t scare him because he can’t hear it!” says Emily. “He actually lets me vacuum/pet him with my handheld vacuum.”
While Murdock had a chronic upper respiratory infection when Emily met him for the first time, it hasn’t flared up since, and this handsome boy doesn’t require any medication for his ears or his eyes. Consequently, even though people often assume special needs cats like Murdock require more care than a typical feline, that’s often not the case. “While that’s obviously true for some cats, it isn’t for a lot of blind and deaf cats, just as it isn’t for a lot of normal-ability cats,” says Emily.
Murdock may not have many special needs, but Emily insists that even if he had to wear clothing or take medication, she wouldn’t mind in the slightest. “If you have the love in your heart, they will know and love that you are there to help them,” says Emily. It’s obvious Murdock, who lost his hearing and vision while living on the streets, knows just how much his mom adores him and his unusual temperament.
“He has such a unique personality that is somewhere between grateful and aloof, snuggly and independent,” explains Emily. Murdock is so special, he’s even transformed some of his mom’s friends into cat lovers, but there’s no one who loves this blind and deaf kitty more than Emily.
While people often feel sorry for special needs cats, Murdock cheers his mom up with his happy-go-lucky personality, and she’s confident this beautiful boy isn’t the slightest bit depressed. “He may not be able to see and hear many things, but he doesn’t let it stop him or bother him at all,” says Emily. “My little murdy-man is as best a friend as any cat could ever be.”
To learn more about this handsome cat, you can follow Murdock on Instagram.