When I found Murdock the Marvelous, the Magical Blind Cat on Facebook, I had no idea that the person who rescued him was the wife of an old friend. Anna Hessler, Murdock’s mom, is a veterinary technician at the Sonoma Humane Society in Santa Rosa, California, who happens to be married to my friend R.W. When I realized the connection, I obviously had to get the inside scoop on this fabulous boy, whose superhero hearing makes up for his lack of vision. And when I say superhero, I mean he has his own costume.
"Murdock came into the Sonoma Humane Society during one of my Sunday shelter shifts when he was only a few weeks old," says Anna. "He had a chronic infection in both eyes that had caused them to rupture. I took him home with me that night to take care of him and he never left. I didn’t plan on keeping him while I was fostering him, but we went through so much and were very attached to each other by the time he was finally fully recovered."
Adopting any special-needs animal can be daunting, but for the Hesslers, it was especially so. Their busy household includes three other cats, two dogs, and their three-year-old son, Waylon. "I was a little worried when I first decided to adopt Murdock because I wasn’t sure how a blind cat would do in our house," Anna says. "I had to figure out how to train him to find and use the litter boxes and get to his food." She worried that the dogs would gobble it down first.
The solution? Anna bought some pet stairs and trained Murdock to locate and climb them when he was hungry. "It worked so well I put pet stairs all over the house," she says, "so he could get to places like up on the dryer — his favorite place to sleep — and on the bed. Once he got older and bigger he didn’t need the pet stairs and is now able to jump up and down like a normal cat."
Now almost a year old, Murdock is as playful and obsessive as any other cat his age. "Murdock is a very funny cat," says Anna. "Waylon has a rocking horse that Murdock is in love with. He loves to lounge on it, make it rock, and chew on its ears. My favorite is the way he greets me when I first come home. He’s always waiting by the door, and when I first walk in he takes a flying leap at me and gives me quite the head-boink. He loves to give head-boinks."
"Sometimes he completely misses me, and it’s hilarious. He head-boinks the air."
He doesn’t always miss, though. Murdock’s lack of vision has resulted in incredibly acute hearing, which allows him to serve as a kind of one-man welcome wagon. He runs to the door and meows loudly when someone walks up the walkway to the house. "The dogs now know that means someone is here," says Anna. "Murdock makes a better watchdog than the dogs do. His hearing is so good he can chase down a fly in the backyard better than any of the other cats." (Don’t worry — his time outside is always supervised in an enclosed yard.)
If Murdock’s pictures inspire you to adopt or foster a blind cat of your own, Anna offers the following tips:
As long as you can provide lots of love and a fairly consistent environment, you too can create a happy, healthy home for a kitty like Murdock, who obviously appreciates the attention. He gets plenty of it, too -ÔÇô he has over 12,000 fans on Facebook, with whom he loves to socialize. "When he met his fans at the Santa Rosa Cat Show in February, he just lounged on the table and greeted everyone with smiles and hugs," Anna says. "Most cats would have been completely terrified of the situation, but Murdock truly loved it. He is so trusting of strangers and always seems 100-percent happy, no matter what. Even when he was a very ill kitten, he was always purring and prancing."
Thanks to Anna and Murdock for sharing the story of their journey together. Head over and like their Facebook page to stay up to date on the continuing adventures of this blind superhero cat in his forever home.
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About the author: Stacy Pershall is a constant traveler currently settled in Astoria, Queens, New York, where she lives in a Greek Archie Bunker house and loves it. When she’s not tending to the needs of her two street adoptions, Carbon and Tiki, she writes stories and teaches writing at Gotham Writers’ Workshop and the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. Her passion in life — besides cats — is her work as a suicide prevention speaker for Active Minds. She is the author of Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl.Find out more by following her on Facebook.
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