My Trip to Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary

Thanks to Sheba and their #FeedYourPassion campaign, I had the opportunity to go to the Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary (BCR) in St Paul, NC. I have a great video I can’t wait to share with you all but it’s still being approved by Sheba – as soon as I get the OK, I’ll post it to the blog. In the meantime I didn’t want to spare anymore time telling you about my experience.

 

I was both excited and nervous to visit given I’d never spent any time with sight-impaired cats but as you can see, they were quick to make me feel at home!

 Blind Cat Animal Rescue and Sanctuary

 

catinface

A big kitty hug!

 

It’s truly amazing to watch the cats climb up and down the cat towers with ease. They don’t hesitate for even a moment and are incredibly trusting and loving.

Pixie (left) and Angel (right)

 

I was lucky enough to be there during an Open House where some people drove over two hours to come and just hang out and love on the cats (many came loaded down with supplies for the Sanctuary). Some come every month to spend the time with the cats as a sort of therapy, a time to de-stress and visit old friends (the cats of course!).

catmen

Yay! Cute cat men!

Blind Cat Animal Rescue and Sanctuary

The rescue was founded by Alana Miller in 2005 in a rather unplanned manner after fulfilling a lifelong dream of purchasing a farm (complete with horses her daughter had wanted and she of course cares for to this day!).

Alana Miller (l) and Tamar Arslanian (r) with Snicker

 

While at a local Petsmart she happened upon Louie, a 6-week-old kitten who had been found under a porch and was very sick, so sick in fact that he ultimately had to have his eyes removed. This is how Alana got her first blind cat.

Louie, the cat that started it all

 

As she states on the Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary website:

“If it were not for him (Louie) showing us that blind cats are just regular cats that just happened to not see, we might not have been brave enough to take in more.  Louie has taught us what patience and true strength is!”

I became a human cat tree!

 

I guess word spread because after the 4th blind cat she rescued she decided to make it official and create a sanctuary for these sweet animals being put down merely because they were sightless.  The Sanctuary accepts cats with 20% or less sight, but they are currently at full capacity with 89 cats.

Blind Cat Animal Rescue and Sanctuary

Curious kitties (some things never change!)

 

It turns out many cats lose their eyesight due to untreated Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs) and even untreated worms! It’s sad to think that in many cases it can be avoided with proper health care.

Blind Cat Animal Rescue and Sanctuary

Riley (left) and Maddie (right) – Maddie is originally from NYC!

 

This is a true sanctuary and cats that come here stay here forever and are not adopted out. Before my visit I was conflicted about this and wondered why these loving cats couldn’t be adopted-out to loving homes so that more blind cats might be rescued. But after speaking with Alana I better understand her philosophy.

candy

Candy

 

So many of the cats at the sanctuary have been through so much trauma and various different shelters and homes. She wants to be sure they are never dumped again so she provides them all with their final forever home where they will live out their lives happy and in the lap of luxury.

Blind Cat Animal Rescue and Sanctuary

Just chilling!

 

There are two houses built specially for the cats with 7 large rooms in total – each with their own patio (or catio). While the kitties might not be able to see, the catios allow them to sit in sun puddles, hear nature, get fresh air and just have more space to roam in general.

catios

Catios!

 

Each of the cat homes is equipped with a washing machine and dryer and the cat beds and towels are washed every day! It’s amazing how odor-free the houses are.

The litter is scooped several times a day and Alana manages to do this all with only two full time employees, 4 part time employees and a handful of volunteers. This is definitely hard work and not for the faint of heart!

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A cat hat (it’s all the rage you know!)

 

There’s a web-cam set up in a different room every day for 24hours if you want to experience the Sanctuary yourself. All you have to do is log into USTREAM. At 3pm EST they give a tour of all the cats.

It’s amazing how many people log-on every day and know the cats by name and if they’ve received any donations in the mail (supplies etc.) they open them up on the USTREAM channel live at 6:30pm each night.

grey kitty

Poppy

 

During the two days I went to volunteer (read: played with the cats, I’m sure I was the worst volunteer ever!), there was a woman by the name of Fiona who had come from Asheville to volunteer at the sanctuary for an entire week.

Blind Cat Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, St Paul, NC

Angel (left) and Shelly (right)

 

The time spent at the sanctuary impacted her greatly and made me realize the greater impact of what Alana does, not just for animals but us two-legged creatures as well. I wanted to leave you with Fiona’s own words on how the sanctuary impacted her personally.

Blind Cat Animal Rescue and Sanctuary

In Fiona’s words:

Many fans of Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary (BCR) don’t know that Alana Miller is a certified paramedic. She has saved many lives. These days she saves the lives of cats who would most likely be put down at shelters without question, then gives them a forever home. I want to tell you that Alana is still saving human lives too, whether she realizes it or not.

Here’s how BCR changed my life.

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Fiona with baby Athena

I had already decided that I wanted a career change that would let me do something I really cared about from the heart. Then I found out about BCR. I decided to spend a week volunteering, doing the cleaning and everything else that makes BCR such a great place for special needs cats. It was the experience of a lifetime. I learned so much – about cats, about hard work, and dedication.

After my experience at BCR I’m more convinced than ever that I want to work in a shelter or a veterinary office. I’m now looking into what I must do to become a Veterinary Technician.

This is how Alana helped to save my life.

Blind Cat Animal Rescue and Sanctuary

Chance

 

If you would like to help Alana and the Sanctuary you can check out her wish list, where you can order the supplies needed. Cash donations are also always welcome!

A super easy way to help BCR is by voting for them in The Animal Rescue Site $100,000 Shelter+ Challenge.

Blind Cat Animal Rescue and Sanctuary

Boone

I’m so happy and grateful I was able to visit this amazing sanctuary. I don’t think I could do what Alana does day in and day out.

These cats are very happy to have found her. And I would have no second thoughts about adopting a blind or sight-impaired cat in the future. They are truly like any other cat and have no idea they are different.

Do any of you have sight impaired dogs or cats? Or have you had a chance to interact with any? If so, what did you find most surprising about them.

 

Disclaimer: My trip to Blind Cat Rescue was sponsored by Sheba as part of their #FeedYourPassion campaign. All opinions are my own.

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36 Responses to My Trip to Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary

  1. This is one of my favorite posts ever! The world needs more people like Alana. As you know I have one-eyed cat Odin and a blind (from cataracts) Merlin. One of the winners of my giveaway for World’s best Litter donated her prize to the Blind Cat Rescue.

    • Tamar says:

      Thanks Layla! Yes Alana is amazing! Go to the one and no-eyed kitties! That’s great about your WBCL giveaway winner!

  2. ekeim teeuwisse says:

    i’d like to add that you can vote for BCR in the The Animal Rescue Site $100,000 Shelter+ Challenge :
    http://www.thehungersite.com/clickToGive/ars/shelter-challenge?link=ctg_ars_shelter-challenge_from_home_MegaNav
    fill in :
    Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary Inc., St Pauls, NC
    and confirm on the next page.
    you can vote once a day.

  3. Sparkle says:

    BCR is really an amazing place, and Alana is an amazing woman!

  4. Barebaron says:

    Getting to meet Tamar was a great experience. My wife and I are sort of cat crazy and have had kitties in our life for over 30 years now. Tamar’s story is cute and sort of humorous all at the same time. Kitties just seem to happen on us, the hows or whys make no difference. The changes in our life do. She went from one to three at about the normal speed of a true kitty lover. Others zoom right past her and slow down when the house is full. The latter is our story. We keep the house full, we have our good days and we have our fur days. Everyone and everday is loved and Tamar’s visit was probably an event that won’t be foregotten, FOREVER, our kitties are now in your heart. BCR is my home away from home and Alana the founder knows to call anytime she needs help. This being Tamar’s Blog, I will say again, it was truly a joy meeting you, my wife enjoyed the time spent with you and we do truly hope you make a return trip soon. Thank you for helping Blind Cat Rescue with your kindness and willingness to share. Barebaron

    • Tamar says:

      It was a pleasure to meet you and your wife – you are too kind! You guys are wonderful for loving, visiting and caring for the BCR cats as much as you do. And you are right. They ARE in my heart now forever! Wait til you see the video I made – hopefully to be posted soon (waiting on approval!), you are featured with your friend Snicker!

  5. katsrus says:

    What a wonderful post. I love BCR. I really loved seeing you there on the cam. I just recently had one go blind from high blood pressure. He has now gained some sight back with meds. I just tried to keep his everyday routine normal. And I had to help him a bit more with getting up or down as he is 20 years old. He does real good now.
    Sue B

    • Tamar says:

      How fun that you got to see me there! LOL! I’m so sorry to hear about your kitty – he sounds like he has a loving home and he is so fortunate for that :)

  6. Both our little dogs who died in their late teens were blind at the time. Our kitty, Madison, had an injury to one of his eyes before he came to live with us at about age two. The vet was never able to say for certain if he could see out of the eye. He, of course, had his other eye that was okay. Cats, with their heightened sense of smell, super good hearing and radar whiskers probably get along better than humans and other animals. The sanctuary looks so wonderful for these precious kitties. Thanks for giving the various links. I am going to definitely check them out and maybe try to volunteer as I am only one state away. Janet

    • Tamar says:

      Janet thank you for loving all animals blind or not. And I’m so happy you enjoyed my post. You should def go visit and just hang out with the kitties or go to volunteer!

  7. Marg says:

    That was such an amazing post. I have met one blind cat that the owner of our vet clinic owns and the cat was just hanging out. I spoke to it and it came right over to me to get some attention. It was so great. I am so envious that you got to help at this place. That Alana sounds so terrific.

    • Tamar says:

      Blind kitties and Alana are ALL terrific you are correct! Thank you so much for your readership! And for taking time to leave a comment! =^^=

  8. Hiro(Vertalus) says:

    I came upon Blind cat rescue by accident and I am very glad I did. I look forward to watching the cats via Ustream but more importantly I enjoy chatting with the others who watch as well. It’s great Alana has taken in these cats who otherwise would not have a good outcome. She has a big heart and cares for the cats very much.
    Thank you for doing a post on them.

    • Tamar says:

      I know, the USTREAM is so fun, I need to start getting on those! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post! Thanks for your readership!

  9. jmuhj says:

    Though all of our beloved felines are sighted, I’m a big longtime fan of BCR and read your post with great interest. What beautiful cats, and how comfortable and inviting their environment is! Very grateful to everyone involved for making it possible for so many special-needs cats to enjoy the best quality of life in a LOVING, FOREVER HOME!

  10. Bernadette says:

    She makes it all seem so easy! And it’s enviably attractive–I wouldn’t mind being there! Thanks for giving us a virtual tour and telling us about it.

    • Tamar says:

      My pleasure – the woman never stops! Those are some very lucky kitties! It’s true it’s so tidy in there!

  11. Tamar you outdo yourself everytime! LOVE this post. How wonderful that you could visit BCR! I could spend days there just playing, napping with the kitties. BCR is also extremely lucky to have you post this story. No doubt it will bring great exposure and supplies and donations. The power of blogging. Like a memorable movie and book, I’m going to reread the post and absorb those photos. Thanks also to Alana and volunteers for making a difference.

  12. Wonderful story – so inspiring and uplifting to read of such good in people. I was so happy to be able to contribute in a big way to BCR via Zee & Zoey’s Cat Ruler of the World Contest and Campaign for a Cause. Due to the brilliant campaign efforts of Katie the cat over at Glogirly, they were able to win the campaign on behalf of BCR and were able to give them close to $7500 in prizes, food, litter, and financial donations!! I have a particular love for Snickers and it is so cool you got to meet and hold him!

  13. Tamar, it was a huge pleasure to meet you and I’m so glad you got to visit BCR! I love your blog post about it too. I’m sure BCR has changed your life as much as it did mine :-)

  14. Kay Anderson says:

    Whenever I buy anything on eBay and pay via PayPal, there is an opportunity to donate to Blind Cat Rescue on the payment page. I always add a few dollars for the shelter.

  15. Christine Fourie says:

    I really really wish we had this here in South Africa, Johannesburg, Gauteng…………..i would be there every day & offer my help & assistance & love & whatever they need! This is amazing………thanks to each & everyone helping out there, i wish i could join you…!?

  16. Rashe Nejad says:

    Tamar, thank you for highlighting Alana’s work. You are right in observing the fact that many cats and kittens are put to sleep because of their sight impairment. When I first found Lucy, that it an option the vet gave me. I thought to myself, how ridiculous! But not everyone thinks that way and that is mainly due to fear. They are afraid that because the cats are blind they won’t be able to find their litter box or groom themselves or have normal lives. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Lucy found her litter box and never ever had an accident. She even climbs her cat tree all by herself. She grooms herself and interacts and plays with her adopted rescue brother Mahboob. She sometimes bumps into things but that doesn’t jade her. She will still play and toss her toys around. When trying to figure out exactly how she became blind because her eyes dilate, I discovered that she became blind while a fetus. She was diagnosed with Cerebellar Hypoplasia. This condition not only causes blindness but other neurological problems. Sometimes, cat and kittens are put to sleep with an incorrect diagnosis of this condition even though they can live normal lives. I have learned a lot form Lucy about living life and no sweating the small stuff. She is an inspiration to us. I hope that by making others aware of her condition, we can save more lives. Thank you!

  17. Kathee Bowyer says:

    I would love to go to BCR but live in Australia…it was wonderful to read about your visit and see the photos of their houses and outdoor areas. I discovered BCR when I found a blind cat and was searching the internet for ideas on what I should do to help her. Alana is right about them being cats who just cant see. I wa amazed at how quickly Opal (that is my cats name) found her way around my house. She started out doing circles in one room and mapped it out then moved into the next room and started mapping out that one. The original owner contacted me from the adverts I placed and said he was going to have her put to sleep as he was moving and didnt think she would cope with the move. She has been blind since birth as her lenses are not in the correct place to enable her to see. She is ten years old. I have had her for six months now and am thankful everyday that she is with me. She has shown me such unconditional love and that is what she recieves in return. She recently had a health scare…lost lots of weight and was in hospital for twos days on a drip. She has Chronic Kidney disease and is now a special diet to keep it controlled. She has regained her weight and more and looks healthier now than when I found her.
    Opal is a true delight to have in my life…..I dont know what I did without her.
    Thank you for sharing your story and I am so pleased you got to see first hand how wonderful blind cats are.

  18. It looks like a lovely place! Thanks so much for sharing!
    Purrs

  19. Looks like an amazing place! Love Poppy! What a cutie!

  20. tamstercat says:

    I think BCR does great work, and thanks for sharing some of Alana’s story too. Did she start a sanctuary for cats who are FeLeuk positive as well? I thought I read that somewhere.

    I’ve had two one-eyed cats and one with FeLeuk, and they were amazing. I loved them. Always happy to hear when others are actively advocating for the special needs kitties. Thank you!

  21. I’m SO glad you got to visit BCR and tell us all about it! I love being able to see their posts and read their stories online :) I myself am from NE but traveled to Maryland to adopt my little girl that has no eyes, Mea the Beautiful Kitty that’s Blind (FB page) as I saw her and knew she was my girl. I researched all about what I’d need to do to help her adjust to the house but really…am amazed everyday at how much she is just a “normal” cat. When my friends come over and talk about how wild it is that she climbs the 6 ft. cat house or literally runs around the house, I realized that I don’t even recognize that she doesn’t have eyes anymore! She’s just Mea! So getting to read your realization of this was just one more amazing advocating voice for these precious ones! Thank you for all you do and for getting the word out there!!!!

  22. Katrina says:

    I’m so glad to have found this site!
    My roommate and I rescued a 4-year-old tabby from the animal shelter last night. She is as healthy as could be. My roommate is a veteran tech, and checked her for everything under the sun; all shots current, litter-boxed trained, no bite history and even micro-chipped! She is super gentle and easy to love, for $20 dollars – what a steal!
    Last night, as we were showing her our forever home, we started to realize she wasn’t responding to certain ‘eyecatching’ triggers. My roommate then looked more closely at her eyes and to our disbelief, he realized that she is partially blind.
    Since “Ki-Ki” has been in her new home, she hides under beds until carefully carried out.
    Once you engage her in the dance of petting you find that she loves to be held and petted. She loves the attention, but is extremely sensitive to movement and noise.
    She hasn’t eaten or used the litter-box much – if at all – and I guess we want to make sure when she does – it’s in the right part of the house.
    We want to love and cherish her. However, now it seems like we are stalking and ‘forcing’ our well-meaning attention on her.
    Suggestions welcome.
    Warmest Regards,
    Katrina

    • Rashe says:

      Hi Katrina, Blind Lucy’s caregiver here, Rashe. Please email me at meowmau.email@gmail.com and I will try to guide you from my experience with Lucy. It is too long to write here and also if you have specific questions, I can answer them to the best of my knowledge. Hope that helps. R-

    • Tamar says:

      I’m surprised the vet wasn’t able to detect it. But I’m glad she has a loving home. Be patient with her. You;re both lucky to have each other. She sounds like a sweet baby. I hope you see the email/note from Rashe below!

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