The moment after signing Blind Murphy’s adoption papers, I asked, “So how do you take care of a blind cat?” In hindsight, I probably should have inquired about this before committing to it in case he required some sort of outrageous care such as having to spoon feed it or regularly maintain its colostomy bag. The gruff lady that officiated the process merely shrugged and grumbled, “I don’t know. Don’t move the furniture around, I guess.” Working on a Saturday afternoon didn’t please her, I suppose. Internet searches didn’t result in useful information (pretty much providing the equivalent of shrugging its shoulders and grumbling, “Don’t move the furniture around, I guess.”) so through five years of trial and error, I present to you the first in a series of informative tips on what to expect when adopting a blind cat (i.e. a handicat). Tip #1: Handicats Are Emotionally Stronger Than You Realize
One of many principles of human nature is that we either feel sorry for the less fortunate or pretend like we do. Unfortunately, the latter (i.e. the “faking it” one) applies to me. While blathering about the inspiration of the Special Olympics to anyone I’m trying to impress, I’m laughing hysterically on the inside imaging an aggressively competitive triathlon that consists of head banging, compulsive stranger hugging, and floor exercises with extravagant semi-carthweels, roll/flops, and double-legged donkey kicks. The only exception is Blind Murphy.
I’ve discovered that his handicap doesn’t amuse me much. Ok, sure. So I’ve enjoyed watching his confusion while he navigates unfamiliar terrain after I’ve rearranged the furniture at Christmas. Or maybe I’ve even, on occasion, deliberately guided him into a door frame as he loyally walked by my side. Yet when I imagine something bad happening to him or living without him, I have to swallow the lump that forms in my throat and fight the urge to hug and pet him while assuring him that I’ll never do anything mean that I didn’t also think was funny.
However, I’ve recently wondered if my gushing of affection isn’t having an adverse affect because lately I’ve noticed him displaying aggressive entitlement issues. You may not believe this, but my sightless wonder is the alpha male of our condemnable house. The chair in our living room? That’s his. The catnip laced super scratcher? That’s his, too. Reese’s heart-shaped food bowl inscribed with ‘Princess’? You guessed it (but don’t tell him it’s pink). I don’t have the heart to teach him to share, and let’s be real here; seeing a blind cat bully the able-bodied is amusing. When he bites Mr. Tiddles in the ass for sitting in his chair, I tilt my head, smile, and enjoy how I was able to mold a once-insecure cat into the brat he is today. When he smacks Reese in the head for eating catnip on the super scratcher, I become overwhelmed with joy at how I was able to lift the spirits of a timid cat that was too scared to leave the bathroom when we first brought him home (but he’s still too scared to step foot outdoors). When he bites my partner’s ankles in the bathroom for standing on his rug, I just throw my head back and laugh loudly.
In my eyes, Blind Murphy is the epitome of an omnipotent, brave cat, a handi-capable inspiration from whom I can learn. Sure, he may still face-plant a wall (through no fault of my own most of the time) or head-butt the leg of our coffee table while playing, but he quickly shakes it off and continues to play as if it’s not a bother. Despite his daily tribulations, he never complains or cries out in frustration, as if he doesn’t want you to feel sorry for him. It doesn’t seem to affect him, and most importantly, it has never broken his spirit. Every day, he plays more, he explores more, and one day, I’m sure he’ll step outside. I think I can learn a lot from that kind of patience, courage, and understanding in a dark and insincere world.