Healing help for scared, blind cat

Person lying on the floor next to Gia the cat
Gia was lost in a world she couldn’t see, but with help now she’s safe and sound.
By Sarah Thornton

The world can be a big, strange, confusing place, even in the best of circumstances. There’s a lot going on everywhere, all at once, all the time. So, it’s no wonder that a blind cat named Gia was scared. Not only was she lost and alone outdoors, but she was also unable to see anything around her. But from the moment she was spotted, people around her did everything possible to make sure she made it somewhere safe and comfortable.

Now, this sweet gray cat is finding her footing again in a quiet foster home (but maybe not so quiet when she decides the middle of the night is a fun time to play).

Finding a blind cat

Gia first showed up on a school property in California and the teacher who spotted her had never seen her before. When she decided to stick around, plans were made to catch her, but they couldn’t. Gia didn’t need to see to keep her distance.

Concerned for the elusive cat’s well-being, the property owner contacted animal control for help, and together they were finally able to bring Gia into a local shelter in the hope of helping her. Thinking she may have been part of a local outdoor group of well-cared-for cats, the shelter staff contacted the cats’ caregivers; however, no one recognized her.

Gia was scared and her eyes were cloudy gray with blindness, but otherwise she was in good shape. She didn’t seem entirely unfamiliar with people, either, and the staff wondered if she might have been someone’s indoor cat who slipped outside and became lost.

[A big new world for a nearly blind kitten]

They took to the streets and social media to try and find her potential people, but once again they had no luck determining where she came from. No matter how many doors they knocked on or fliers they handed out, no one came to pick up their missing Gia.

Most cats in Gia’s situation at the shelter would be examined by a veterinarian, vaccinated, spayed and returned to their safe outdoor homes. But since Gia was blind, unfamiliar with the outdoors and didn’t have any clear home, so that wasn’t an option. Instead, they brought her to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah, where she would have all the time she needed to relax, unwind and start coming out of her shell.

Eye surgery

Shut down when she arrived at the Sanctuary, Gia immediately tucked herself into a hiding spot and didn’t move. She was frightened just like before, but there was also something else going on. Upon examining her eyes, the veterinarians found scarring on her corneas — evidence of a possible past rupture — and she was likely in pain. Gia was completely blind and her eyes were beyond repair; so, the veterinary staff decided the best course of action was surgery to remove them.

Immediately following the surgery, Gia was moved into a new foster home with Cathy Bosley, a Sanctuary staff member. And while Gia was still very shy, it was clear that at the same time she was feeling some relief. With no pain from her eyes, she finally and slowly started to relax.

[Foster volunteer prepares to welcome 100th kitten]

As Gia recovered in a spare room, Cathy often woke in the middle of the night to the sound of her playing. “She’ll play like a kitten with crinkle balls and anything that makes noises,” says Cathy with a laugh. “She likes if she can hear it go across the floor.” (And during all that energetic playing, Gia only ran into the bed once.)

Bold, blind cat

Once the door to her recovery room opened, Gia took herself straight down the hall to Cathy’s bedroom, where she settled down for the next week and got comfortable. One time she even crawled up into bed in the middle of the night once — a pleasant surprise for Cathy to wake up to the next morning.

Since sightless Gia was also exploring the house, Cathy and her husband (when they moved to Kanab, Utah, near the Sanctuary) specifically chose a single floor home to make navigation easy for senior cats and those with special medical needs. They knew they’d be fostering (and adopting) a few. For Gia, it was perfect.

“She walks around and she doesn’t hug the wall like you would anticipate that she might,” says Cathy. “She walks slowly and deliberately, but she lets her whiskers see what’s out there. I’ve moved things around the house and it doesn’t seem to bother her.”

[Foster volunteer steps in for a shy cat]

Gia even started opening herself up to being petted, and she especially enjoyed a good scratch on the forehead and under her chin. “She’s good with that,” says Cathy, “but if you try to touch down her back, she still freaks out.” As long Gia’s boundaries are respected, though, she has no problem kicking up a good, deep purr and leaning into Cathy’s scratching hands.

Since Gia still likes having a safe place to rest, she’s picked out a box that Cathy calls Gia’s “garage,” but she’s out and about, and gaining confidence every day. She’s not a huge fan of her furry roommates (Cathy’s own cats and other foster felines). But if they get too close, the most she musters up is a half-hearted hiss. And she does still seem to enjoy the sound of them purring nearby.

“We try to let her be, and don’t force anything,” Cathy says.

Now that she’s in a quiet, safe place and pain-free, Gia really is recovering, both mentally and physically. She has all the time in the world to come out of her shell at her own pace. Then, when she’s ready, she can move on to a home and family all her own. And this time, there will be no getting lost.

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