I don’t remember how long I had been wandering alone or when I had last eaten until I was no longer able to move. I was malnourished and dehydrated. The life of a feral cat is a tough survival, especially when you’re blind like me.
I was in bad shape when animal control picked me up. They thought I wouldn’t make it. I proved they were wrong. Some say cats have nine lives, but in my case, I was probably born with more than nine.
But look, I also know how extra lucky I was. Things could have been very different if I had not met those devoted animal lovers on my journey. Long story short, they were the unsung heroes who didn’t give up on me and nursed me back to health.
After having spent a short time at the animal control facility, Lambertville Animal Welfare (LAW) took me under its wing. LAW is a New Hope, Pennsylvania/Lambertville, New Jersey-based nonprofit group that takes care of the ferals, seniors and handicapped — the kind of kitties who are often overlooked.
And little did I know at the time, I was going to meet my destiny human. Yes, I believe in destiny.
The very first time she came to meet me, I gave her a cold shoulder and went to hide. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I was scared. I was just extra cautious on the first day. As a former feral, I was accustomed to being vigilant and observant. I couldn’t trust a stranger just because she sounded nice, you know? But I decided to give her a chance as she respectfully served me some high-quality cat food as a gift. Oh, that was good stuff. And the truth is that I was also interested to know her. It was eight years ago.
Well, I’ll tell you a bit about Liberty, my human. She’s kind of unique. She chooses the used over the new. Originality over popularity. Freedom over career. Senior cats over kittens. She is always out treasure hunting and constantly decorating the house in her own unconventionally fabulous way. She describes her design style as “meticulously organized chaos.” She is a hoarder of the things she loves and the mirror twin of Marie Kondo. If this home was a song, the title would be “Welcome to the Kawaii Jungle.”
She loves things perfectly imperfect, with chipped paint, dents and scars. And she swoons over rust.
Do you know that tortoiseshell cats are called “sabi neko,” meaning “rusty cat,” in Japan? No wonder why she was drawn to me when she saw me on LAW’s website. A one-eyed sabi neko whose left ear was overly tipped from a TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) program. She must have fallen in love with my whimsical vintage look.
While many would hesitate to adopt a special-needs pet (I am exceptionally capable and no special care needed, thank you), she stepped up to take the honor to become my guardian.
Then she gave me the coolest name that suits me perfectly.
Hello. My name is Patina Belle.
I currently share the house with seven other former rescue cats. Do I get along with them? Well, let me put it this way, I don’t necessarily call them friends, but we are co-existing peacefully, most of the time.
If you think I’m shy or intimidated because of my pint-size figure and handicap, you just don’t know me. I am fierce. I am the smallest of the eight but definitely the feistiest.
You were not born to be perfect but awesome. (Patina)
There are two alpha males in the pack. Uni is a 13-year-old spoiled brat who is the size of a bobcat. Duff is a young punk who’s got a tattoo in his ear. Although they act like big bullies, they know I’m untouchable. I am armed with an advanced defense system, and if any cat gets too close to me, they will feel my claws of fury. I developed this system when surviving all alone outside.
As you may know, cats communicate mainly by eye contact and body language. However, due to my blindness, I often misread their messages and will rush at them. Yeah, I have to admit that I sometimes strike them too hard, but that’s how my built-in defense works, and I just can’t help it. Apparently, my housemates don’t appreciate it. I’ve heard them whisper behind my back, saying things like, “That weirdo punched me in the face for no reason. She’s impossible to understand ’cause she doesn’t even speak our language!”
Frankly, I’m quite offended by that. For your information, I do speak cat. I just have a little accent, so to speak. They’d also murmur that they can’t stand my attitude. Whatever. That’s a tortie from New Jersey for you. If you know what I mean.
Anyhow, I am a very special kitty in many ways. Unlike ordinary cats, I actually have legit jobs.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
— A famous animal rights quote
First, I am a concierge. While I am not very feline-friendly, I have good people skills. When a guest comes to visit, I’m the one to greet and give them a tour. Since I offer such impeccable service, no one will tell that I am blind.
Second, I’m a product supplier. I contribute my loose fur for my human’s craft work. Yep, you heard that right. She makes felt sheets out of cats’ hair and creates corsages. I told you she is unique.
Third, I am a surveillance agent. My job is to make sure that no cat gets too excited and accidentally trips over and breaks any vintage glassware in the house. Under my watch, not a single object has been damaged. I take this duty very seriously because everything my human collects will eventually be sold for the benefit of animal rescue groups like LAW. She enjoys shopping, decorating and fashion, but her true passion is animals. Always has been.
And finally, among all the important work I do, I am most proud of being the life coach to my human.
I inspire her by showing the way I live my life. When she first found me, she felt sorry for a scarred blind cat in the shelter. But having lived with me, she quickly realized that what I needed wasn’t pity. I might have looked beaten outside, but my spirit was not broken.
“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little they become its visible soul.” — Jean Cocteau
I continuously teach her the art of lightheartedness. As a feral cat, every day was a survival, and nothing was certain. So, I stopped worrying and decided to enjoy the moment.
Once in a while, my human gets to be asked: “How can you cook with so much stuff in your kitchen?”
Good gracious. That kind of comment always makes me wonder why some folks care how others live or why they assume everyone has to cook? If functionality is the main focus in life, no one should be wearing high heels, right?
Your home is your private haven and your canvas to express yourself freely. Fill it with whatever makes you happy, for happiness is the only thing that truly matters in life.
Don’t be skimpy on what brings you joy. Get inspired and create art. If you surround yourself with the things you find beautiful, your life itself will be beautiful. Unlike me, you only have one life to live, humans! So be amused. You can have your cake and eat it, too! Do something meaningful to you, and don’t let others waste your time.
I beat the odds and survived. I lost my eyesight but gained the ability to see the light within. Today I have a family and am living my life to the fullest in this home referred to as a colorful jungle by some people and that we the cats call “Happy Whiskers.”
It has been a pleasure sharing my story with you. You are the cat’s meow.