Sheryl was visiting a vet’s office near her home in Qatar in October 2019, when she spotted a blind calico cat the staff had named Sweetie. “We were told by the vet that she was a rescue case,” remembers Sheryl, who was at the animal hospital to help with another rescue cat. “A kind lady brought her in from the streets and paid for her treatment.”
When Sweetie arrived at the office, she had already lost her vision, most likely due to feline herpesvirus (FHV), and the veterinarian had arranged to remove her eyes, believing they were irreparably damaged. “On the day of the scheduled surgery, her eyes seemed to improve, so they decided to leave it,” explained Sheryl.
While Sweetie was shy and scared, she was also extremely affectionate, and Sheryl found herself drawn to the fluffy feline. “She would curl up on my lap, and had the loudest purrs,” remembers Sheryl, but she already had two cats at home, Princess and Cookie, and she wasn’t planning on adding to her feline family.
However, over the next two months, she visited Sweetie multiple times, and by December 2019, Sheryl — and everyone else at the vet’s office — knew she’d fallen in love with the beautiful blind cat. Still, before making the commitment to adopt Sweetie, Sheryl wanted to learn more about what to expect with a visually challenged feline. “I did a lot of research about caring for a blind cat before I adopted her,” explains Sheryl, “because I wanted to make sure I could provide the home she needs.”
After careful consideration, Sheryl brought Sweetie to her apartment in late 2019, eventually changing her name to Monkey. “After I took her home, her personality had space to grow and blossom,” says Sheryl. “She was no longer that shy and scared cat at the vet’s.”
Not only was she no longer frightened, she was actually fearless, climbing the window screens and jumping on and off of the kitchen counters like a little monkey. Sheryl quickly discovered the research she’d done about caring for a blind cat simply didn’t apply to Monkey. “Tips online like not moving furniture around are not really relevant as her other senses make up for her lack of sight,” explains Sheryl. “Her hearing and sense of smell are exceptional.”
Other articles claimed blind cats often rely on a seeing friend to help them navigate their homes, but it was almost immediately apparent Monkey didn’t need help from Sheryl’s other cats, Princess and Cookie. “She just wants a friend to chase and play with,” says Sheryl.
While Monkey adjusted to her new home in just a matter of days, proving blind cats are incredibly adaptable, Sheryl still wanted to do her best to try to save her eyes. Initially, one of Monkey’s eyes appeared to be responding to blood plasma treatment, but one day her cornea suddenly ruptured while she was at the vet. “It was the scariest thing!” remembers Sheryl. “At that point, removing her eyes was the only solution for her long term quality of life.”
Fortunately, she made a rapid recovery, and today this energetic girl is as active as ever! When Monkey’s not antagonizing Cookie or racing around the apartment, there’s nothing she loves more than eating. “Her stomach is a bottomless pit,” explains Sheryl, who had to figure out a way to stop this very determined girl from eating Cookie and Princess’s meals. “We had to get a microchip feeder so she’d stop stealing her sisters’ food.”
Aside from Monkey’s seemingly heightened sense of smell being a bit of a challenge at mealtimes, she’s actually a pretty typical cat. “People seem to think she is hindered by her lack of sight, but she really isn’t,” says Sheryl. “In fact, she’s the most active and playful cat in the house.”
When Monkey ventures outside of the house, like when her mom takes her to the vet, Sheryl has noticed people often want to approach her, possibly because she’s blind. Unfortunately, Monkey often gets spooked by this unsolicited attention, although Sheryl doesn’t believe her reaction is necessarily related to her lack of vision. “I think people should learn that cats, like us, can choose if they want to interact with you, and shouldn’t be forced to,” explains Sheryl.
She also hopes more people will realize blind cats really aren’t that different from their sighted counterparts, and there’s absolutely no reason to pity Monkey. After all, not only does she have a full and active life, she has a mom who absolutely adores her and her sisters. “All three girls mean the world to me,” says Sheryl. “Life without them would be completely boring.”