Stevie the cat has recently become a bit of a sensation thanks to a YouTube video of her hiking through a pastoral Irish forest.
“Sure,” you might be saying, “that’s definitely cool and everything, but I’ve seen other cats hiking before. What makes Stevie’s story any different?”
Simple: Stevie is blind.
Yep, this Calico loves to hit the countryside scene and navigate around by canny use of her other senses.
Here’s how she does it.
Stevie was adopted by Patrick Corr in June of 2012.
“She had been staying in The Cat Hospital in Cork, a purposely built veterinary clinic designed exclusively for cats,” recalls Patrick. “I first heard about Stevie when her story was being shared on Facebook by people in my area, and it really resonated with me.”
With Stevie being blind, Patrick did some research into caring for a cat with the condition before offering her a forever home.
“I read so many testimonials from people who had said it was the best decision they’d ever made,” he says. “A lot of preplanning was involved to make her transition as easy as possible.”
When it comes to Stevie’s day-to-day indoor cat life, it turns out she’s a pro at getting around.
“As long as she’s somewhere familiar, you might not even know she was blind,” says Patrick. “She can open doors, run up stairs, even jump up on the couch.”
That said, there is one caveat: “She knows where everything is, and that’s important if you’re living with a blind animal — once you move furniture around she has to completely relearn the design of the room. That can take hours, sometimes days.”
So how did this translate into Stevie becoming a champion of the outdoors?
Patrick says he was “amazed” at how quickly she mastered her inaugural hike.
“She relies on the sounds of my footsteps to know it’s safe to keep walking in that direction,” he explains. “She uses her tail and whiskers to navigate around objects extremely well. Like any animal, she does get tired eventually, and when that happens she’s perfectly content to sit on my shoulders.”
Patrick adds that when Stevie is out, she usually keeps her head low when walking. That way she can feel out any objects in her path with her whiskers.
He also says Stevie is usually the one leading their hikes: “The main trick here is to let her decide where to go — cats hate being restricted, so it’s important to allow her the courtesy of being free to explore. I just tag along.”
Next up on Stevie’s itinerary is an epic jaunt up Carrauntoohil, the highest mountain in Ireland. (The trip is part of a series of fundraising efforts Stevie is involved in.) In anticipation of that, you can check out her famous hiking adventure in the video below.
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