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Living with a Blind Cat




Lumi’s Story:  Proving You Don’t Need Sight to Shine Brightly


It had been seven months since we’d lost the last of our geriatric cats, affectionately known as The Old Timers. Friends and family would ask if we were planning to go out and adopt another feline. “Nope,” we’d reply, “when you do rescue work, they just find you.” And in the case of Lumi and Mezzo, like all good love stories, we weren’t even expecting them when it happened.


The tale started in August last year. We received a call from the shelter: a mother and her five two-week-old kittens needed foster care. We were familiar with the process and these seemed similar to the others. They all had conjunctivitis – not uncommon for young ones from the street – so we started them right away on eye meds. But in only a few days, we realized this was no usual case. Overnight, the orange runt’s eyes had become severely red and swollen. We rushed them all to the shelter’s medical team, who prescribed drops and ointment to combat FHV (feline herpes virus). During the first several days we were giving meds every few hours – even through the night – for risk of damage to their eyes was high.


Of the five, two came through without any long-term effects. Another had a tiny scar on the corner of one eye. When the time came, these three cuties would be adopted quickly from the shelter. Mezzo, a blue tabby, had scarring across both eyes: impaired, but with fuzzy vision. The orange tabby runt lost several layers of his cornea and, even after all we’d done, once needed an emergency patch to keep an eye intact. He had lost his sight but had a fighting spirit that lit up the room. So we named him Lumi: short for Lumière (“light” in French).


While uncertain of the complications that might arise, there was no hesitation that we would take the risk and adopt him. Internet research maintained that accommodating a blind cat was straightforward: don’t needlessly rearrange furniture or leave large objects on the floor – and never let them outside. One site suggested spraying different perfume scents on furniture in various parts of the house to orient your pal.


However, it wasn’t long before the perfume seemed like an insult to Lumi’s intelligence. We also considered closing the door that led to the basement stairs, but he soon figured those out too. Now the stairwell is one of his favorite places to play. Lumi is our household spitball and crinkle toy champion. He is the fastest and most agile chaser we’ve ever encountered and has recently graduated to a ping-pong-like cat ball that flies across our hardwood floors. Sometimes, he seems to push toys under the table legs and chairs – just to make the game that much more difficult and fun.


Our vet suggested Lumi receive daily doses of a gel supplement, Lysine, to suppress the FHV and any possibility of a recurrence. Lumi loves his Lysine, considering it such a treat that we’ve combined it with a morning grooming session – during which he often purrs.


This joyful boy gets along famously with the other cats in our home: Noche, the regal elder who rules gently with a godfather-like status; Girlfriend, a shy beauty who is coming out of her shell thanks in part to Lumi’s companionship; and Mezzo, his slim, soft brother with Buddha qualities. Lumi, once the runt of the litter, is now the rough-and-tumble bruiser of our family. At less than one year old, he is already larger and heavier than any other feline we’ve known.


Lumi wins the hearts of all visitors who, after watching for a period of time, are incredulous to learn he cannot see. His command of surroundings is so advanced that we sometimes forget as well. From challenging beginnings, Lumi has blossomed into a delightful and healthy cat. The fact he is blind seems ironic considering what a beam of sunshine he has become. Ours is a love story of mutual adoration. And every day we are thankful that Lumi, and his brother Mezzo, found us.


Lisa & Chris Ennis

San Francisco CA

June 2006