When Katie Buckman visited her local cat shelter she was planning to rescue two kittens to rehome. Katie runs BabyCats Kitten Rescue and regularly visits cat shelters to rescue cats and kittens who she later rehomes.
However, this visit turned into quite a different experience for Katie.
While she was looking at some cats, she heard a very loud meow sound coming from one of the shelter's kennels. To Katie, this high-pitched meow sounded just like screaming.
Saved by a meow
She discovered the sound was coming from a distressed young kitten who was blind, hungry and desperate to get her attention.
The little black and white male kitten refused to let Katie leave without him and meowed repeatedly to her until she decided to take him as well.
Cats with medical issues, disabilities or physical disabilities face a bleak future as shelters struggle to rehome them.
"This little guy was found as a stray and brought to the shelter. I had gone in for two other kittens but there was no way I could leave him there, screaming in a cage," Katie told Love Meow.
Katie knew she had to take him too.
With the three kittens all packed up, Katie headed home.
"He was tired, scared and wasn't super responsive to anything other than food," she said.
Once home, Katie wrapped him in a blanket with a heating pad and a toy for comfort. Even her dog Burt wanted to help and kept the little kitten company.
What a difference a day makes
Just the next day, Katie could see a huge difference in the kitten. “He was a different boy,” Katie said. He had started playing with toys and wanting to lick Katie’s face.
“He flourished into a playful, affectionate and silly kitten,” she said.
The little kitten is completely blind as a result of microphthalmia, a growth defect where the eyeballs are abnormally small. This can be caused by a genetic mutation, or a disease during pregnancy or certain medications given to pregnant cats.
Knowing that the kitten may need specialist care, Katie contacted The Odd Cat Sanctuary who specialise in caring for cats with behavioural issues, medical conditions or physical abnormalties. They also look after cats who have been abused, neglected or abandoned, or those that have managed to escape being put down.
Tara Kay from The Odd Cat Sanctuary took over the care of the kitten who she named Melvin.
Tara quickly fell in love with little Melvin. "He's the perfect little guy. He loves to eat and play, and purrs the second you hold him," she said.
He also still knows how to use his meow to get what he wants. "He screams for attention, but once you pick him up, he stops and purrs."
Despite being underweight while at the rescue shelter, Melvin quickly started to gain weight and fill out.
And despite his sight loss, nothing seems to faze this kitty. While he may not be able to see, Melvin’s other senses more than make up for it. By using his hearing and sense of smell, the clever kitty can map out locations and pinpoint the whereabouts of a moving toy.
"He sniffs and uses sound to navigate. He's very brave and doesn't seem to be afraid of anything," Tara added.
Katie is understandably delighted by Melvin’s progress.
"I'm so glad I could save him and found him the best home," Katie said. "We all do our best and every person in rescue fights the same battle. I just do what I can and hope it helps a little."