Arthur’s Odyssey

By Gloria Lauris

Arthur and his crinkle ballArthur taps his crinkle ball, pounces on it then pushes it, running after the tinkling fuzzy ball playing ball hockey in a way only a cat can. He lays on his side and kicks the little orb with his hind feet in fierce hunting mode, his grey fur shining in the entranceway morning sun. One would not believe this feisty cat is over 11 years old. One would also not believe he is blind!

Resilient Arthur jumps up on the chair in the living room and turns his head, listening to sounds in the household as I cook or walk from room to room. He uses memory, touch, hearing, and smell to navigate his unseen universe.

His life has been an ongoing voyage, an odyssey, marked by many changes of fortune.

Arthur was born in a litter of three in late July 2010, to a six-month-old stray grey kitten who gave birth behind a house on Arthur Street in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Arthur was born blind, but his two sisters were sighted. The kind rescuers hoped he would be adopted with his mother or one of his sisters, but the other two kittens were quickly adopted together, and his adored feral mother slipped away outside again after being spayed and disappeared, leaving Arthur to fend for himself. Thankfully Arthur was adopted, and things started to look up for him.

Fast forward ten years, and his adopter developed health problems and could no longer look after him. Arthur abruptly ended up back with the rescue group. For almost a year he was with a foster family, joining several other pets in a busy household, but they had to move away and couldn’t keep him. By now Arthur had developed a chronic eye discharge and it was decided he needed enucleation (eyeball removal surgery) to stop the recurrent eye infections.

When I learned that this senior Russian Blue needed a foster home for the holidays, I applied to his rescue group. I had fostered other cats before, and I was told he slept most of the time and was a quiet cat. I hope to do travel again soon (COVID permitting) but felt I could offer my home at least for a few months anyway to this unfortunate creature while they continued to advertise for his forever home upon recovery from the potential surgery.

His foster parents dropped him off with immediate supplies and his favourite toys and blanket. I was instructed how to care for him: ‘…nothing left on the floor that he could get tangled in including plants, don’t move the furniture around as he memorises his route, keep his litter boxes in the same place, and similarly the food bowls. Tap his bowls if he gets lost or put him in a familiar place where he could orient himself again. He is to have only wet canned food, and any refrigerated food is to be warmed with a bit of hot water. No chicken, kibble, or grain. His litter is low dust, comprised of unscented wood pellets. His bowls must be ceramic.’

Arthur on a benchIt took Arthur about a week to adapt to my household. He generally prefers to jump up and rest on surfaces above the floor, like on a chair, bed, or sofa, yet not so high as the table and mercifully doesn’t knock things off. When he was in his prior foster home, he often slept in a laundry basket with his favourite blanket, to feel safe from the other cats. I put his blanket in a laundry basket in my study, so he could keep me company. He used it only a few times, but I guess being the sole animal, he feels safe enough to sleep anywhere he likes, typically lying on his side or stomach. He doesn’t use a scratch post, and politely uses some rug pieces in the bedroom for this purpose, kindly leaving my leather sofa alone.

Arthur is initially shy but generally loves people. He greets new people and often will flop on his side and roll on his back to have his tummy rubbed and follows them about. He would do well in a home with several people to pamper him!

I must give him antibiotic drops a few times a day until surgery. He hates it, as well as anyone touching or cleaning his eye area. But he is resigned to it, especially since he gets a couple cat treats afterwards as a reward, which he eagerly anticipates. He has possible kidney problems as shown by his recent bloodwork and urinalysis, which is worrisome. He doesn’t seem to drink much, if any, water, so I add a bit to his wet food.

Arthur needs several small meals a day (every four or five hours), and he usually wakes me in the night to enforce his schedule, purring and patting my face gently until I comply.

He uses his litter boxes very well for peeing, but not for his stool. We play a daily game called ‘Find my poop!’  I’ve been trying some non-invasive therapies to see if they help his litter behavioural issue, including using a cat pheromone diffuser for relaxation, quantum biofeedback for emotional issues, and crystals for chakra balance and healing. He does seem somewhat calmer over the weeks I have had him but maybe he is just adjusting. I learned he had this issue in his last foster home too.

Many shelters euthanise blind cats due to their increased needs and reduced chances of being adopted. Blind cats are adaptable and adoptable, however, and with some basic precautions, they can lead a normal cat life.

Arthur and the sun spotsFor instance, although Arthur doesn’t play in paper bags, he likes cardboard boxes like other cats. And somehow, he finds sunny spots even if he can’t see them. He doesn’t head-butt like many cats do, as his head is probably sore from bumping into furniture from learning his way around. He does jump into one’s lap from time to time, purring and settling in to be petted. He may not lift his tail in greeting to his human like sighted cats, but he does chortle, trill, and chirp like other felines. He lets me know he has had enough petting when his tail thrashes. He exercises by trotting down the hall, retracing steps, sometimes running in circles chasing his tail, and jumping up against doors and walls as though playing with imaginary ribbons. He occasionally places his crinkle ball in my footwear (“He shoes! He scores!”) as a gift or maybe as a joke.

For more information about living with a special needs pet, the books by Gwen Cooper about her blind cat Homer are instructive. However, just as every cat is unique, blind cats are different from each other, too.

Please join me in hoping and praying that Arthur’s eye surgery is successful. And that he soon finds his perfect, patient home with all the attention he needs, especially in this late stage of his special life journey. 

Ed's note: if you would like to give Arthur a home and you live in the Ontario area, contact Gloria on:


More pictures of Arthur

Arthur ready for a belly rub Waiting for a belly rub!








Arthur trotting down the hallway Arthur trotting down the hallway 

Five Good Reasons for Having Your Cat Neutered

  • Reduces fighting, injury and noise
  • Reduces spraying and smelling
  • Much less likely to wander and get lost
  • Safer from diseases like feline AIDS, mammary tumours and feline leukaemia
  • Reduces the number of unwanted kittens