Homer was very unfortunate at the early age of 3 weeks. He got a terrible eye infection which led to the decision that his eyes had to be removed. After that, nobody wanted to adopt him, until the vet called Gwen Cooper...
Q - When the vet called you, what did she say?
She told me that she had a three-week-old kitten with a severe eye infection who'd been abandoned at her office after the couple who'd originally brought him in learned he'd have to have his eyes removed in order to save his life. At that point, they no longer wanted him. My vet told me that he was sweet and friendly and utterly lovable, but that she hadn't been able to find a home for him. I was reluctant, because at that point in my life I was broke, staying in a friend's spare bedroom, and already had two cats. But after hearing that story, I had to go down to meet him.
Q - So you went to the clinic and saw Homer, was it love at first sight?
Pretty much! Homer's such a lovable little guy, and of course as a tiny kitten he was absolutely irresistible!
Q - You had 2 other cats at home, did you have any concerns on how they would react to a new cat in the house?
I did have some, although Scarlett and Vashti (my other two cats) were still relatively young at that point. Scarlett had just turned two and Vashti had just turned one. I hoped that they were still young enough to adjust fairly easily to a new kitten, and as it turned out they were.
Q - How was Homer's healing process?
When I first brought him home, he'd just had the surgery on his eyes. The stitches came out a week later, and from there on in it was pretty smooth sailing.
Q - As Homer grew up, he's shown to be a very amazing cat! What are some of the things he's done that are hard to believe for a blind cat?
The two things that are most amazing to me are how well he gets around -- he never bumps into anything! -- and how incredible his other senses are. Homer plays, runs, climbs, and jumps just like any other cat, and is better at catching flies in midair than any cat I've ever seen! Honestly, you'd never know he was blind to see him running around.
Q - He's even chased off a burglar in the middle of the night? What happened?
The night Homer saved my life! This was about twelve years ago. I woke up one night at 4:00am to the sound of Homer growling, which was very unusual because Homer's a pretty laid-back little guy. When I turned on the lamp, I saw a strange man standing at the foot of my bed! I was terrified, to say the least. I actually think the intruder was terrified too, because I think the last thing he would have expected to encounter was an eyeless black cat threatening him with claws and hissing. I've never seen Homer so aggressive! He just knew something was "off" about the situation. Anyway, to make a long story short, Homer distracted the intruder long enough for me to reach for the bedside phone and dial 911. At that point the guy turned and ran, and Homer jumped down from the bed and ran after him! He chased the guy all the way out into the hall before I caught up with him. I've always said that one of the "side effects" of Homer's blindness is that he has no idea how much littler he is (he only weighs about four pounds) than most other things. I think in Homer's mind that night, he was a giant panther and that man was his rightful prey. He was pretty angry at me, actually, for hauling him back in our apartment before he could catch up to the intruder. But, of course, we forgave each other pretty quickly!
(Wow, this left us quite speechless!)
Q - Did you ever think you would write a book and it being successful?
Since I was very young, I've dreamed of being a writer. I had no idea, though, that I would end up writing about Homer until 2008, when I got the idea for the book. Homer was 11 years old by then. As for its being successful, that's something you daydream about as a writer, but you never really expect it to happen to you. It always comes as a surprise.
Q - Are there any tips you have for people who are living with a blind cat, or a cat going blind?
My biggest tips would be love and patience. There are some specific things you can do if your cat is having difficulty adjusting to blindness -- ways to scent-mark different rooms, for example, to help your cat orient himself in your home. I actually have a FAQ about living with a blind cat on my website, which you can find here. But the main thing to remember is that animals are remarkably resilient and adaptable. With enough love and patience, they can adjust to just about anything.
Have a look at Gwen's book Homer's Odyssey and get updates on Homer's Facebook page!
Thank you for your time Gwen and lots of hugs from us at MySmelly for you Homer!!
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