"Who's That Blind Orange Tabby Online? I Have to Have Him!"
Colleen Kelly-Angstadt was an animal lover from New Jersey. Mr. Magoo was a blind ginger tabby stuck in a Philadelphia shelter, and the cat's time was running out. When Colleen saw Mr. Magoo's photo last October, it was love at first sight. She couldn't let him be euthanized just because he was blind. She had to help him.
"As soon as I saw his face, that was the end of it," she says. "I fell in love. I had to find him."
But finding him was no easy task. She'd stumbled across Magoo's distinctive, grinning mug while browsing the Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary's Facebook page. It was a courtesy post for another shelter, so she wasn't sure where or how to locate her new love. She enlisted the help of a co-worker and started making phone calls and sending emails to every rescue she could find in the Philadelphia area. Four days later, she got a response from the Pennsylvania SPCA.
Colleen drove across state lines to retrieve Mr. Magoo, but he had fallen extremely ill. He had a severe upper respiratory infection that left his eyes crusted shut and his nose bloody. He could not see or smell his food, so he was not eating unless someone fed him by hand -- and even then, eating was painful, because his mouth was full of ulcers. He was on intravenous drugs, but he didn't seem to be responding. Colleen would not be able to take him home just yet.
While Mr. Magoo was in intensive care, Colleen called every day to check on his condition. After about two weeks, the vet suggested Colleen try caring for Magoo at home. What Magoo needed, the vet said, was someone with enough time and patience to give him the care he needed -- something shelter staff members, though knowledgeable, caring, and helpful, were unable to provide, because of the sheer volume of cats in their care.
Bringing Magoo home ended up being best for everyone. Amazingly, even though he had spent the first two years of his life living blind on the streets, he warmed up quickly to Colleen and her husband, Scott.
"From the moment we brought him home, he was a sweetheart," she says. "Within three days, he was a completely different cat. He was eating, he was responding -- he was amazing."
According to Colleen, Mr. Magoo was born blind; his eyes and eyelids are not fully formed. He has extremely limited peripheral vision, however, and he responds to flashes and bright lights. This is perhaps why he is so photogenic, almost seeming to grin in his many Facebook snapshots.
"He can't see anything dead-on, but on the sides he can see lights and shadows," Colleen says. "He turns his head all the time to get a glimpse of something. He's very partial to light, like flashes of the camera. As soon as we do that, he looks right at you -- like, oh, there it is!"
Despite Mr. Magoo's blindness, Colleen learned that her cat's so-called disability made no difference to him. He was just like any other cat, except he perhaps ran into walls and fell off of shelves a bit more often than others. Colleen's six other cats are all rescues, but Magoo was her first special-needs adoption. She had been considering bringing a special-needs pet into her home since getting to know several people with special-needs pets on Facebook and following their stories. After adopting Magoo, she realized that when it comes to special-needs pets, you always get more than you give.
"They just need a little extra attention and a little more love," she says. "If you have the time and the patience, what they give you back is so much more than what you're giving them."
She has also enjoyed the special bond she and Magoo share, which is different than her bond with her other cats.
"[Special-needs cats] respond differently than other cats," Colleen says. "It's almost like they're more grateful. They trust you to take care of them. I notice when [Mr. Magoo] gets stressed and he's not sure, he'll look up at me, and I'll cup his face with both of my hands, and I can instantly see him relax. He knows that mom's here; it's OK."
Because Colleen decided to give her special-needs kitty a chance after following others on Facebook, she is paying it forward by sharing Mr. Magoo’s journey -- follow along here. She has also created “Gooey Wear,” a line of T-shirts, mugs, and totes bearing her special kitty’s adorable face. She donates the proceeds to shelters that care for special-needs pets and helps them find forever homes.
“My whole goal for his page is if I can get somebody else to open up their heart and home to a special-needs pet so it doesn't have to be put down, then I've succeeded,” she says.
Read about more special-needs kitties on Catster:
- Pretzel the Kitten is Blind, Deformed and Inspiring People on Facebook
- Deformed Legs Can't Hold Back Little Bear the Rescue Kitten
- Deformed Front Legs Can't Stop Triumph the Kitty
- Meet D'Artagnan, a Paraplegic Kitty Living Life to the Fullest
Do you know of a rescue hero — cat, human, or group — we should profile on Catster? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.