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Happy Tail: Ava

Early into the first Covid lockdown, Jun found herself ready for a cat companion and was interested in finding a pet that needed a home.

“I definitely have a bit of a soft spot for animals that are a little bit harder to adopt out,” Jun says. She’d been watching videos online of Blind Cat Rescue, a sanctuary in North Carolina, as well as clips of Jackson Galaxy working with special needs pets. So, when Jun came across Ava, a blind senior cat, on the ACR’s website, she decided to reach out.

Ava went through quite the journey before she made her way to Jun. For years, she had been living as part of a cat colony on the Danforth being fed by a local resident. Eventually, he noticed she was having health issues and contacted the ACR. Volunteer Tania came and took Ava to the vet, where she learned Ava had glaucoma. Tania knew this meant Ava couldn’t go back outside and took her in to foster.

Happy Tail: Ava

“They tried to treat it for a while, but it had gone untreated for so long. Eventually, they just said the best thing to do is to remove the eye. So that was the first surgery. But over the next year, she kind of got a cataract and her vision was declining.”

The vets informed Tania that Ava had a condition called Uveitis, which could cause her to lose her vision entirely. Ava eventually had her second eye removed as well and is now completely blind.

“The second eye surgery was really hard. Well, it was probably harder for me because I just thought it was so sad to get to that point,” Tania says. “And her recovery was harder on the second surgery, or at least I think it was. She had trouble eating and it was like her depth perception was completely gone.”

Ava proved her resilience, however, and quickly adjusted to her new life.

“She recovered eventually really well… She was doing really well with no vision at all. And she just always seemed to have this attitude like, ‘OK, I’ll just take whatever comes in, I’ll just deal with it.’”

A blind senior cat may not be the first choice for some adopters, but Ava’s sweet personality made her an in-demand cat. Jun was one of several applicants who wanted the chance to meet Ava and become her human. But luck was on Jun’s side, and she and Ava were a match.

Jun had done her research and knew how best to make the transition for Ava.

“One of the things you have to be careful about with blind cats is not to move furniture around too much, because they get to know the landscape and then they start to create a little mental map of it. And if you’re constantly moving it around, that’s very disorienting for them. It’s frustrating for them.

“I was careful with things like that… I’d have things in place that I’d always make sure they were in the same place so that she had little landmarks throughout the apartment, so she knew that the bathmat was always in the same spot and things like that. What she does is she just slowly walks through the apartment, and she bumps into things a little bit with her head. I was careful when I saw that that’s what she was doing, to make sure that there wasn’t anything she would bump into that would harm her.”

Happy Tail: Ava
Happy Tail: Ava

Ava adjusted to her new home well, and both Jun and Tania were amazed at how good and well behaved she was despite all she’d been through.

“I was surprised at how well she adjusted actually; I wasn’t sure what to expect.”

Since she’s a senior cat, Ava doesn’t play much and prefers to veg out with Netflix. Who doesn’t?

“She really loves when there’s Netflix on, like when I’m watching a movie or TV show or live music. She really loves that. She really likes hearing sounds, so that’s my joke with my friends,” Jun says. “I’ll be watching something and I’ll say, ‘Ava hasn’t seen this movie actually, she let me know she hasn’t seen it and really wants to.’”

Ava has settled in perfectly and is ready to live out her remaining years as a safe, happy indoor cat. Jun is happy she is able to provide that home for her and thinks more people should take a chance on a special needs pet.

“I think a lot of people assume that a blind cat would be difficult, and they’re really not… there are some things you adjust, but overall, they’re really like any other cat. She’s my little buddy now and I couldn’t imagine my life without her. I think it’s a shame if people automatically decide not to adopt a cat or dog because it’s blind or deaf or whatever.”

-Jenn Reid

Happy Tail: Ava