“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So begins the novel, “A Tale of Two Cities”. But this is a story about two cats—cats with very different life stories, who are now living in “the best of times,” in spite of uncertain beginnings and ongoing challenges.
Sixteen years ago, a special kitten was born in the wild, somewhere in the Mendenhall Valley. A “Pixie Bob,” she would always have short legs and a bobbed tail, but this kitten was also special for another reason—she was born blind. How she and her half-blind sibling survived to be brought into the Humane Society, we’ll never know.
But she did survive, and with loving care provided by GHS, she was soon featured in the paper as “Pet of the Week.” Saralyn was looking for a cat, after losing her former feline companion to kidney disease. She saw this kitten’s photo and knew she had to go meet her in person. At first glance, she said she immediately got tears of love in her eyes-- “deep heartfelt love for this kitty.” The Pixie Bob went home with Saralyn, where she was bestowed with the name, “Eisha,” a Hebrew word that means “woman.” As Saralyn adds, “it’s a soft name for a soft cat.”
If you were just meeting Eisha for the first time, and if you didn’t see her eyes, you might not realize that she is blind. She moves around with ease and is wonderfully social. She loves to be talked to, sung to, and held on her back in your arms. If Eisha could magically see herself in the mirror, Saralyn says she would look “brave and courageous.” She has a big personality and loves a party. She wants to be by people perhaps, in part, because people and parties mean food and Eisha is “always hungry” and is always aware of cooking activity. This tendency, in part, may have to do with her early weeks in the wild.
Fast forward to 2009. Saralyn and Swarupa travelled for a few months and, while they were gone, their house sitter brought another cat into their home. They learned from her that Eisha did really well with the other cat, so they thought about getting another of their own.
A 2.5 year-old cat had just been brought into GHS and he was a featured pet in the newspaper. “Angel,” a large white Siberian Forest cat, had one green eye and one blue eye. He also had special needs—he is totally deaf, which cats of this breed may be predisposed to. Saralyn and Swarupa saw Angel’s picture and gave serious thought to adopting him. They thought he might be a good fit into their home because he also had special needs.
When they first met Angel, he was perched high up in the cat room. Very skinny at the time, he was also high strung and nervous. Saralyn and Swarupa fell in love with him and brought him home. Right away, Angel’s name was changed to “Albert,” because they wanted him to have a strong and different name. He also goes by “Sir Albert Toth,” because he is so regal and well-groomed.
The first year Albert moved in, he meowed a lot and was nervous. As Swarupa notes, “there were definite trust/adjustment issues.” With time and love, however, by the second year he allowed them to touch him. And, with more time and love, by year three, he loved to sit in their laps and be petted. Swarupa says that “Albert is the gentlest soul you will ever meet in human or cat form.” He is peaceful and kind, and loves to be petted and groomed, which is a good thing given his thick white coat. He also sits so still that sometimes you don’t initially realize there is a large white cat in the room.
Although Albert was initially somewhat standoffish to his owners, it was clear that he was anxious to have a playmate. Saralyn and Swarupa later learned that Albert was brought into GHS with a sister, who was adopted by another family, which perhaps explains this need. However, because Albert is a big cat and Eisha is small, at first she was at a disadvantage simply because Albert is large and agile and leaps around in play. But time is a gift where things can unfold, and over time the cats became closer. Although fairly independent of each other, they stay close together and have even picked up habits from one another, which is unusual because one can’t see and one can’t hear.
These days Eisha and Albert are truly living the best of times. They don’t “know” they are blind and deaf, and live happy and full lives, giving much joy and companionship to their owners. Someone once said, “Sometimes you can give and receive comfort all at the same time.” Living proof of this can be found with these two very special cats and their two very special owners.