When you adopt a one-eyed kitten…

There are some things you need to know.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten, understand that he’s probably been through a lot. Maybe he’s been very sick and faced the surgical knife. Maybe he’s lived on the street and felt a clawing slice or been shunned by his own family.

You might expect these experiences would make him aggressive, guarded, prone to hiding or fighting, or dangerous to have around.

In my experience, it’ll just make him more sweet and floppy.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

the shelter may warn you that finding him a loving home will be tough because of his impairment. They may explain how trauma from sickness and isolation from being unsocialized may make him hard to love. They may applaud you for your willingness to take on the arduous and undesirable task of loving him, and you’ll realize that ableism is not species specific. They may say that if you have children around, those children might not understand why he’s lost an eye, that some parents wouldn’t want to explain what happened to him to their young ones.

They may be right about other people, but don’t let their warnings stop you.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

if there are children in your life who range from curious to afraid, you’ll explain in gentle terms that he’s just like other cats and also different from all other cats, in the same way that the child is different from all other children, but also just like other children. Your one-eyed kitten will be happy to be the starting place for a conversation about empathy and individuality.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

know deep down he’s probably been living on the streets. He’s had to hide in strange places from any number of perceived threats. You may lose him in the darkest corners and find him in strangest places where your older, much more elegant, obsessively clean cat has never ventured before.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

he may find pillows and blankets hard to understand. He may be more comfortable laying under the kitchen table like a dog might. You’ll find him sprawling out on cement, on the fireplace masonry, or on the glass kitchen tabletop. He wasn’t born to a land of soft cushions and fuzzy cat beds. Rough textures may bring him comfort and his comfort is what really matters.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

you’ll be slow to realize that his depth perception issues will keep him initially from jumping too high or too far, and will cause him to knock over the water bowl every time he takes a drink. He’ll eventually practice the jumping thing, hitting some heights and clumsily missing others, but he’ll never be too scared to try again. To stop the water spilling, place a small plastic object in the bowl that floats on the surface, and he’ll use it as a guide because he’s actually a very smart kitten.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

keep the bathroom door closed, or the toilet seat down, because this kitten’s curiosity and depth-challenged jumping practice will land him in the toilet one day, and no one will be happy about that.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

he might be underweight, and you’ll feed him whenever he’s hungry. You’ll occasionally even let him try human foods (though if you’re like me, a vegetarian, your one-eyed kitten probably won’t like anything you eat anyway.) Then one day you may realize he’s quadrupled in size within a few months and you’ve probably been overfeeding him, and you’ll need to put him on a diet with the supervision of the vet, who will confirm you’ve definitely been overfeeding him and you’ll feel extremely guilty. Don’t worry though — your one-eyed kitten is a strong, flexible warrior and he’ll adapt to this like everything else.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

he may be desperate to get outside, back to fresh air and sunshine, back to hunting grasshoppers and chasing butterflies, back to stalking squirrels and grumbling at birds. You should know that his immune system may be compromised. Due to the infection and the subsequent surgical removal of his eye, his allergies may be severe. In this case, supervise outside time and limit it accordingly.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

especially one as black as night, he might disappear into the shadows, even when you’re watching. Keep a close eye out, as he will have trouble keeping watch over himself.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

if he’s like my little man, because of his compromised immune system and those blasted allergies, he will spend more than half the year congested, struggling to breathe through his deviated septum. You may need to teach him how to sneeze, by gently fluttering a feather around his adorable, stuffed nose until he figures out through trial and error how to do it for himself. He may toss his head backward in a very cartoonish “ah — ah-ah-ah chooo” action-packed move that might make you laugh out loud. Sigh, they grow up so fast…

The first time he sneezes on his own, a very long and sticky string of snot will fly from his nose and get wrapped in his whiskers. Like me, you’ll probably think a piece of spaghetti has been lodged in his sinus somehow! Subsequent sneezes are just as sticky, stringy, and gross, but if your one-eyed kitten is anything like mine, he’ll slurp most of it down and leave only bits and pieces on the front door, on your shoes, on your pillow, even on your face! This is love, in mucous form. No tissues necessary.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

he’ll be very playful and need constant stimulation. He’ll be smart, and smart is easily bored. He’ll love cardboard boxes, paper bags, feathers, ribbons, ping pong balls, anything that squeaks or moves on its own, and even that little red laser pointer light that moves like a bug up the wall.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

he’ll want to wrestle everything, your winter hats, your octopus doll, your shoes, whether on or off your feet. He’ll simulate playtime with his long-lost brother, times he had before the illness that claimed his eye took his brother’s life.

Be sure to make “ouch” noises when he bites, so he learns how to nip more gently. He doesn’t want to hurt you, but he doesn’t know how fragile human skin really is.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten

it might even annoy your other cat. She’s older, wiser, used to sleeping in a quiet house, and more into cuddling than pounce play.

You’ll feel empathy for her and sense she’s aggravated, overworked and tired. Raising a kitten was never her idea. She might even be a bit jealous. I mean, she was the center of your world before.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

it might take your older cat months, but eventually she’ll become more patient with him. She’ll share her favorite spots. She’ll teach him the way of the house, her way.

She’ll know he’s a bit behind, but only because he’s untaught. She’ll teach him to play tag, which at first will look like bullying, really one-sided bullying, like she’s turning his rotund little belly into a punching bag, like she’s growling to scare him and chasing him with malice until, you realize, she’s not using her very articulate claws. Until, that is, he figures out the game. The first time he raises a paw in the air, she’ll throw you a look that says, “See? I was trying to teach him all along.”

Then you’ll remember all the weight he gained and all the food she suspiciously shared with him and you’ll realize she‘s been fattening him up for this purpose all along!

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

sometimes your older cat will look at you sideways in a way that says, “Do you believe this guy?” and the best thing you can do is pet her and tell her what a sweet girl she is, and thank her for her continued patience with the newest member of the family.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

eventually you’ll know when he’s been accepted as one of the gang.

Even the neighbors won’t think twice.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

make sure your other cat knows she can still have her space…

But…

it shouldn’t be a problem, because your one-eyed kitten will sleep. A lot. 20 hours a day.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

he’ll give you plenty of sleepy photo opportunities.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

even if you name him Odin after your nerdy enjoyment of Norse mythology, know that you’ll find yourself calling him all sorts of things — Handsome, Baby Boy, Little Man, Little Guy, Little Mans, Mr. Mean, Fat Mean OD, Odie boy, Odin the Skiddish, Odin the Chirper, Odin the Destroyer of Cardboard — but none of that will matter to him as long as he can watch you while you go about your day.

When you adopt a one-eyed kitten,

you’ll absolutely fall in love.

I highly recommend it.

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Lori is a writer, forever figuring things out.

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