September 1st, 2018 was a day that would drastically improve the lives of 7 cats in Madison Heights, Michigan. A search warrant was served at a local residence where the animals were living in absolute neglect within a hoard. At the Madison Heights Animal Control shelter, resident cats looking for homes were transferred to other shelters to make room for the new arrivals.
When the cats arrived, there were two that shelter volunteers knew were a special case.
The two had put up quite a challenge for the Animal Control workers that had pulled them from the filth. The dedicated humans would stop at nothing to give the frightened cats a chance at a good life, out of the clutter. Even if that meant their legs being devoured by the fleas from the infested “home”. As the last cats to be rescued at the residence, these two had expertly eluded capture, taking refuge under a dresser.
When they were trapped, rescuers were shocked to see the malnourished cats both had serious eye issues. The female calico/tabby of the pair was blind in one eye and the black and white tuxedo male was blind in both! He could just make out light and shadows, but that’s it. They were named Helen and Keller, respectively, and were estimated to be about 2-years-old.
With the lack of eyesight between them, Helen and Keller are absolutely dependent on each other. Keller relies on Helen to lead him with her tail when they are in new locations. Having limited eyesight, Helen is happy to slowly and cautiously explore with her man “having her back.” The shelter knew they were a bonded pair and would have to be adopted together. Not an easy thing to necessarily do, and even more so with visually challenged cats.
But the felines were as sweet as can be once they were feeling better and warmed up to volunteers.
They were both extremely skinny and needed to get to a healthy weight. Happily, the infestation of fleas had finally been cleaned from their mistreated bodies. Other than that, they were surprisingly healthy. In early October they were cleared by vet staff to be put up for adoption.
“They have such a beautiful bond. They are both let out of their cage daily and watching Keller develop more confidence roaming the shelter is awesome to see. Helen is always close by to make sure he is alright. Both are very clean in their kennel and are great at using their litter box.”
“Keller LOVES toys especially his jingle ball and his orange interactive toy.”
By November, they had still had no interest from adopters.
Even sharing adorable photos in Facebook posts of the two cuddling didn’t generate applications. Who doesn’t want two cute cats who sleep snuggling with arms draped over each other all the time?! Baffling, I know.
As Christmas and the holiday season approached, the shelter cats all sent out their ‘wish lists’ for Santa. Helen had a special wish. Her partner in cuddles, Keller, was having complications with his eyes.
“Dear Santa, I know I am suppose to ask for things for me. But my best friend in the whole world is having issues with his eyes. I am asking you Santa, that just maybe some of your elves can come up with some money so he can see the eye doctor. He will probably need to have his eyes taken out. I really want my Keller to never have pain in his eyes because I love him so much.”
The vet concluded that due to untreated Feline Herpesvirus (FHV), pressure kept building up between his eyes causing migraine like pain. Raising the funds to pay for surgery, the shelter took Keller to have one of his eyes removed to relieve the pressure. Now that he’s healed, they aren’t surprised that he’s even more sweet and chill.
The holiday season came and went. Helen and Keller remained at the shelter with no potential adopters coming forward.
All the other cats that were rescued from the hoarding house had found their forever homes. Again, their plea was posted on social media, begging for a home of their own.
“Helen and I want that so very much. Please don’t pity me just because I can’t see. I can do everything any cat can do, sometimes just a little different. I also have Helen to help me through things I may be unsure of.”
“We love our staff here so very much, but it’s not like being in a real home. Helen and I both love affection and we seek it out. I just follow your voice. Please share us, we haven’t got one application this whole time. And please just look at us as cats because that’s what we are. Nothing holds us back from having fun and enjoying life.”
Kim Davis had been following their story on the Madison Heights Animal Control Facebook page from the beginning.
At the time, she was just a loving supporter hoping the sweet cats found a home soon. Then in November, tragedy struck and she lost her beloved 14-year-old cat, Lucian to Lymphoma.
Kim knew she would eventually be able to open her heart again to a special feline. She actually planned on getting a bonded pair since she works all day. Then the two would have each other and not be lonely. Just one reason she was so enthralled with the story of Helen and Keller! She also wanted an older cat, but not necessarily a senior cat that may need more supervision too.
“Kittens are cute, but they’re a lot of work and I wanted animals that maybe weren’t at the top of most people’s wanted lists.”
Every time she saw a post about Helen and Keller showing they were still at the shelter, it tugged on her heart strings more and more.
She was unsure about adopting blind cats even though these two were everything else she was looking for. Admitting her concerns, supportive people shared their success stories of challenged cats and the misconceptions about them. Nothing was too overwhelming for Kim and she gained the confidence to trust she could absolutely care for Helen and Keller.
“I had a meet & greet with them last week and they were so friendly and affectionate; I decided to go ahead and put in an application.”
On Monday, January 21st, Kim picked up her new family members — Helen, now named Sarah, and Keller, now named Stevie (Wonder).
Having the day off of work for the holiday, it was perfect timing for her to help them explore and get used to their new home supervised.
“They don’t quite have the run of the house…I’ve been opening it up slowly because I’m afraid they might fall when I’m not around. Right now they have access to most of the main floor of the house and they’ve already memorized where the litter box, food, and the toy box are located. They love to play and to be loved on.”
After just a couple days, the two are happily claiming their new territory and new human. Kim had an Instagram account for Lucian and added the new stars to the page.
“I just added Sarah & Stevie to the existing page as a way to help keep Lucian’s memory alive.”
Now the humans that came to love the bonded pair at the shelter can follow along on their adventures. Anyone who is unsure that blind, special needs or otherwise “un-adoptable” cats are worth taking a chance on, have two more cats proving them wrong!
Congrats to Kim, Sarah and Stevie! <3