Our inspiration for The Magoo Room was a tiny, tuxedo kitten named Magoo. Back in 1999, our vet showed me her latest reclamation project, a female kitten several months old, born without eyes, who had been brought to her to be put down. I offered to take the kitten, and went home to ask my husband if we could keep her. He said, “It would be hard to say no to one like that.” Soon this tiny bundle was ours, and we named her Magoo, after the nearsighted cartoon character Mr. Magoo.
At first we planned to keep Magoo in the laundry room until she got to know that area, and then to allow her to roam to the next room. Magoo had other ideas. She wanted to the roam the entire house, right away. This tiny little bit of fur explored the entire house, learned immediately where her litter box was, and was in total command of the house without any special direction or guidance from us. She was sturdy, and certainly not handicapped. From that first day, Magoo amazed us with her strength and personality. She would not tolerate any nonsense from the big cats, and always stood her ground.
At her highest weight, Magoo was 5.7 pounds, but she had no idea she was small. If geese flew overhead, she would race through the living room and climb the front door screen to get closer to the birds. One day I found her on the sill of the window above the front door! When it was time to have Magoo spayed, her preoperative blood testing indicated a problem with her liver. When the spay operation was done, her liver appeared to be normal, but within a few years, Magoo started to have difficulties. She took Denosyl to help support her liver, and was on a diet of boiled chicken or baby food, four times a day. She had a few episodes of not eating when her liver problems became significant and she would spend several days at the vets on antibiotics and fluids. Magoo was a fighter and several times when we thought she was on death’s door, she would rally.
However, in July 2004 she stopped eating. There was nothing more that could be done and Magoo died of liver disease at the age of 5. Do I miss her? Every day. She was my delicate flower and my tough old buzzard. She slept in her highchair in the kitchen and ate on the highchair tray. She wanted to be in my lap throughout breakfast. She would lie on my chest while I would lie on the sofa to watch television. She would never sit with Joe. If she accidentally walked across his lap, she would look up at his face, as if to say “You’re not my mommy,” and keep going until she got to me. I always wanted to cuddle her like a baby, but she would have none of it. Everything had to be on Magoo’s terms. When she was put down, I finally got to hold her body and cradle her like a baby. It wasn’t what I had wanted after all.
Magoo taught us that sight need not be important. Everyone who saw her and said “Oh, poor kitty,” was wrong. She was tough. She had fiber. She was capable. She was loving, and she was strong. Seeing people’s reaction to her, taught us why so many apparently handicapped cats linger in cages at shelters. People just don’t understand.
And so, while she was still alive, the idea for a sanctuary was born. Magoo lived to see the sanctuary built and residents start to appear. When we opened the door for her, she strutted around and greeted the cats, as if she had known the room and the occupants as friends for a long time. I still grieve for her, but what better tribute could there be to our little gal, than to create a home for other little gals and guys, where they could live, not just in peace, but live well among their peers. Thank you, Magoo, for the love and the lesson. The sanctuary is your legacy. You taught us well.