So I promised to write about this beautiful heroic girl Gracie. She is 100% blind.
Gracie's "rescue" story has been painstakingly slow and has required bundles of patience.. but that I have.
I first spotted her almost two years ago, January 1st 2011. I was driving along the road of our quiet valley when I saw this little (I think she must have been about 5-6 months old) awfully skinny and strangely wobbly walking cat. I instantly stopped to check her out but met a very scared cat that set off in a direction away from me - but with a very strange kind of wobble. I tried to walk towards her but with the result that she started running and fell into ditches and bumped into bushes... I realized she was blind. I can't actually describe the sense of distress I felt - how on earth was she going to survive like this?? Not to stress her further and cause her harm, I knew I had to give up pursuing her. But I searched for her for days after that - but with no result. We live in a vast nature area on a mountain side and it was impossible to know where she was hiding. I eventually gave up... I frankly thought she hadn't made it through the winter. But...
Spring time came and I suddenly spotted her again one day - just outside our gate. I think she had secretly smelt her way to a source of food (I feed our more feral cats not far from the gate). Stupidly in my eager to feed her I walked towards her with a handful of kibble. With the same result as the first time I saw her... she hurriedly wobbled away. This time I knew not to pursue her further. Slowly slowly this started repeating itself - only now I began to outsmart her. I knew which direction she would set off so I took off my shoes (so as not to make a sound to scare her) and ran ahead of her and left some kibble. Success!!! I could then sit at a distance and watch her have a much needed meal.
This happened more regularly and I started calling her name... it had to be Gracie, she moves beautifully and carefully when she is not stressed. Feeding her involved taking off my shoes for a long time - this allowed me to put the food just in front of her without her noticing me. But eventually she got used to my name and I think she associated it with food and no danger. We built a great little trust relationship and I was of course over the moon the first time she allowed me to pet her. Talk about a WOO HOO feeling!!!
She started settling and about a year ago it was obvious she had not intention of leaving. She did not do well with any sense of confinement so when we found her in our basement last winter taking shelter from the rain, we naturally left a blanket for her. She began to thrive and put on weight. Our first real challenge came when she had to be spayed. We knew she would freak out in the transport box. She was of course petrified but I told her she was safe and would soon be back in her well-known territory. We'd agreed with the vet that she would be put under immediately to alleviate her stress and after bringing her home she was released into the caravan in the garden. It was freezing cold outside and I simply had to make sure she would be warm during her recovery. I'd created a big woolen nest on the floor and after an initial moment of freaking out she gradually began to settle (the tasty food helped!). The next morning I actually found her curler up in the woolen nest beautifully asleep. She was content and very happy when she stepped outside and realized she was indeed in her well-known territory again. Since then she has grown very trusting of us and she now sleeps indoor with the younger cats. They are in a place where there is always an open door so Gracie thrives here.
Gracie is very tactile... she loves lying in places where she can touch something - like this top image where she is resting her paws on a broom head. Inside she has her food on a box slightly raised above the floor. It has an uneven surface and it gives her great comfort relating to the world around her through touch.
Her true nature has appeared and she is actually a very cheeky girl. When it's time for feeding she runs ahead of me (on the path you can see in the above images) and hides behind the bushes to the side. When she can hear me just in front of her she jumps out to surprise me... need I say she melts my heart!? She always always rolls over the moment she hears me and is ready for a tummy rub and you can see in these images that she loves posing for the photographer - I actually think she is smiling to the photographer in this last image!!
P. s. Stay tuned - sweet Christmas story coming up Monday.