When Dawn’s cousin Christina called her, asking for advice on what she should do with a tiny white kitten she’d rescued moments earlier from the side of a busy road in Los Angeles, she told her to bring the young cat to her home in Orange County. “She pulled over to try catching the kitten and to her surprise, the kitten ran straight for her,” explains Dawn. “She was dirty, skinny, and obviously very frightened.”
Thankfully, it didn’t take long for the little white cat to trust her rescuer, and as Christina made the drive to Orange County, the kitten curled up in her lap and slept for the duration of the journey.
When Christina arrived at her home on July 8, 2018, Dawn instantly fell in love with everything about the cute kitten, including her dirty little face. “We got her all cleaned up and when I was drying her off, she fell asleep in my arms,” remembers Dawn. “I knew at that moment she was home.”
Smitten with the affectionate and easygoing feline, Dawn decided to adopt her, naming her Khaleesi, an ode to one of her favorite characters from Game of Thrones. “Since my Khaleesi’s hair is as white as the character’s hair, it seemed fitting,” explains Dawn.
Shortly after adopting Khaleesi, Dawn took her to the vet, and an examination revealed the kitten was approximately three months old, making her birthday some time in April 2018. “I decided her birthday would be on April 26, 2018, which is a very bittersweet day for me,” says Dawn. “Two years earlier I said goodbye to my 9-year-old rescue dog, Cadence, who suffered from congestive heart failure.”
While she was devastated to lose Cadence, or Cadie for short, Dawn was grateful her best friend was finally at rest after battling the illness for a year and a half, and she wanted to honor her beloved dog’s memory by choosing the day of her passing for Khaleesi’s birth date.
In addition to Khaleesi’s approximate age, the veterinarian told Dawn to monitor her new kitten closely for signs of hearing loss as white cats are prone to congenital deafness. “It took about a week for me to fully realize she was deaf,” remembers Dawn. “I would have given her a home regardless though.” After all, deaf cats are capable of living happy and healthy lives as long as they’re kept indoors or supervised very closely any time they’re outside.
“After realizing she was deaf, I started researching and found an online community dedicated to deaf white cats (DWCs as we call them),” says Dawn. The members of the group provided Dawn with lots of tips to help her care for Khaleesi, and more than a year later, she is extremely grateful for this unique community. In addition sharing advice, the members post photos and videos of pets, causing Dawn to realize a lot of deaf white cats not only look like Khaleesi, they also act like her.
“She is such a sweet, quirky, silly cat, and I’ve come to realize that has a lot to do with her being deaf,” explains Dawn. “They are so much fun — although a bit destructive — to have around and bring so much joy to their humans.” In fact, Dawn has enjoyed caring for Khaleesi so much over the last year and a half, she is considering adopting another deaf white cat. “I just want to help another baby like Khaleesi thrive.”
Without a doubt, this gorgeous girl is thriving in her forever home, and while it’s a bit more difficult to communicate with a deaf cat than a hearing one, Dawn believes Khaleesi is definitely worth the extra effort. “It is a bit of a pain because you have to have their attention in order to communicate, and let’s be real — they are cats after all,” says Dawn, “but, they’re smart, perceptive, and understand a lot more than you realize.”
Initially, Dawn had planned to teach Khaleesi hand signals, giving her a nonverbal method of communicating with her, but it quickly became apparent that her new pet lacked the necessary attention span. More than a year later, Dawn has her own method of communicating with Khaleesi, which combines hand signals, light touches, and facial expressions, although she still struggles with getting her hearing-impaired kitty’s attention in the first place.
“Sometimes I just wave my arms around like a crazy person until she sees me,” explains Dawn, and she’s learned using lights can be a good way of getting Khaleesi to look in her direction. “But at the end of the day, she is a cat — she only pays attention and listens if she wants to.”
While she may not always be interested in what her mom is trying to tell her, Khaleesi loves when Dawn pulls out the laser pointer. However, she can get a little too obsessed with trying to catch the red dot, so her mom doesn’t use the laser pointer very often. Khaleesi also enjoys playing with her favorite wand toy, eating, and going on adventures with Dawn. “Khaleesi absolutely loves riding in the car with her head out the window, just like a dog,” says Dawn.
Because she can’t hear, Khaleesi is much more tolerant of loud sounds than a typical feline, which is one of the many reasons Dawn thinks deaf cats make great pets. “Deaf cats aren’t bothered by any noises at all,” says Dawn. “In fact, they usually love the vibrations from noises! Vacuum cleaner? Pssh. That’s a massage to a deaf cat. Fireworks? Just pretty lights in the sky to a deaf cat!”
Before adopting Khaleesi, Dawn didn’t have any experience caring for a cat with special needs, nor was she actually looking for a new pet to add to her family. Today, it’s hard for her to imagine her life without this beautiful girl or the special relationship they share.
“That animal depends on you to care for them and help them thrive,” explains Dawn. “There is no better feeling in the world than looking at that sweet fur baby and knowing you are helping them live their best life!”
Thanks to Dawn and her cousin Christina — who rescued Khaleesi from the side of a busy road when she was just three months old — this adorable cat has a home where she’s given loads of love and care. However, Dawn insists Khaleesi’s not the only whose life dramatically improved that day in July 2018. “She came to me at a very pivotal point in my life and quite literally saved me,” says Dawn. “She is pure joy in the most magical form and I simply could not picture my life without her!”
To learn more about this gorgeous cat, you can follow Khaleesi on Instagram.