Blind cat sees the good in everything

Leonsio the blind orange tabby cat lying on a couch with a Hello Kitty pillow behind him
Leonsio couldn’t see at all and was skinny and matted when he was found outdoors, but he still sought love and gave it in return.
By Nicole Hamilton

Every time Leonsio hops on the couch or tries to open the pantry to sneak a cat treat or two, his adopter, Sam Garcia, can’t help but to think about how far he’s come — and what life must have been like for the orange cat before animal control officers found him fending for himself outdoors in Riverside, California, without the ability to see.

Back then, Leonsio was so skinny you could see his bones. His fur was dirty and matted. He was missing one eye, and there was a corneal ulcer in the other. But the staff at the Riverside County Department of Animal Services shelter were also quick to notice that even though Leonsio was blind, he sought out love and gave it in return.

Orange (tabby) inspiration

Shortly after Leonsio arrived at the shelter, he came to Best Friends in Los Angeles, where he became known for his sunny disposition in spite of how he must have been feeling physically. He’d need good food and some grooming to look and feel better. As for his eyes, they would require more extensive medical care.

When the Best Friends veterinary team examined Leonsio’s eyes, they believed that his condition was caused either by an infection at birth or possibly a congenital defect. To avoid any future medical complications, he’d need surgery to remove his remaining eye and close his eyelids. That surgery and his neuter (done at the same time) were successful, and he soon moved in with Samantha Bell, Best Friends cat expert, who was eager to foster him while he recovered from surgery.

[Blind Dog and Cat FAQs]

Once he got the all clear from the veterinary team to go home, he joined Samantha and her cats Desmond, Yohan, and Maurice at her home — also known as “Disneyland for cats.”

Navigating a new home

“He was just pure love,” Samantha says about Leonsio, who was still very tired from his surgeries when he arrived at her home. “He just wanted to be carried, and he’d purr and kiss you. I was almost in tears, just seeing how loving he was.”

Gradually, Leonsio started walking to his food and water bowls, which Samantha kept in the same place so he’d know where to find them. He began to explore little by little, slowly understanding the layout of Samantha’s home.

Soon, Leonsio had no problem jumping on the couch with ease. “The way he walked was absolutely precious,” says Samantha, explaining how he would lightly touch his paw on the surface ahead of him to make sure it was stable. “Every step he took, it looked like he was doing ballet.”

[Blind kitten with the heart of a lion]

Leonsio was also the center of attention when Samantha’s friends came over. “They’d just hug him the whole time,” she says. “One of my friends came over to watch TV, and she just hugged him for the whole two hours she was here.”

He also became good friends with Samantha’s kitten, Maurice. Together, they would play, wrestle, and cuddle for hours.

After about two weeks at Samantha’s place, Leonsio had the lay of the land down pat. In fact, it was hard to tell he was blind at all. He was also starting to lay serious claim to Samantha’s heart. That’s when she decided to shift her focus from helping him recover to working with her colleagues to help him get adopted.

Samantha’s friend Samantha Garcia (or “Sam” for short) had been following Leonsio’s progress on Instagram when Samantha posted that he was available for adoption.

An emergency room nurse with a soft spot for visually impaired cats (one of her cats has one eye), Sam reached out to learn more about him. A few days later, she came over to Samantha’s place to meet Leonsio. Within the first few minutes, Sam knew Leonsio was going home with her.

Brave young cat

That day, Leonsio officially went from homeless to home when Sam adopted him. Now, he’s becoming friends with her two cats and two dogs. “He’s spunky, and he loves playing with his new animal siblings,” says Sam.

He’s also showing Sam how smart he is. In fact, he knows exactly where she keeps his food and has learned how to open the door to find it when he’s hungry.

And while this might not be as much of a surprise, Sam says her friends and family adore him. In fact, Leonsio was called Lucky or Lucky Noodle at Best Friends, but her father wanted to name him after the animal he resembles.

It’s a name that fits. Like the lion, Leonsio is strong and brave, adapting to whatever challenges life brings. But his is a calm strength. “What got me was how much he went through, and he’s still so kind and wanted love,” says Samantha. “He is such a gentle soul.” 

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