Written by Caryn Allan, Lucky Lucy Foundation Treasurer
Professional photography by Shuttermutts Pet Photography
Gandhi’s journey began at the SA Mass Animal Sterilisation (SA.MAST) Clinic, an animal welfare organisation in the heart of Khayelitsha.
The white-and-tabby youngster, now named Gandhi, was brought in with four kittens of about four weeks old. Gandhi had been looking after them at a local taxi rank for over a week, taking on the role of a caretaker by finding them food and bringing it to them.
It was initially assumed that he was the kittens’ mother, given that he cared for them as she would have (they even suckled on his long fur). But it turned out that this was a young male and there was no sign of their mother.
It turned out, however, that there was something else that set Gandhi apart from other cats...
On examination, it appeared that Gandhi only had one eye. Dr Rushda Khan of SA.MAST requested assistance from Kim Marais to help this special needs kitten.
We took Gandhi to see the eye specialist at Panorama Animal Clinic; he confirmed that Gandhi was, in fact, completely blind, most likely from a very young age.
We were astonished: how could it be possible that a blind cat was able to fend not only for himself, but also “his kittens” – and at a busy taxi rank? We’re still in awe of this boy and his determination to live a normal life and always put others first.
An exceptional cat
Gandhi joined us at the Lucky Lucy Foundation, where he continued with his selfless behaviour. He would wait for the kittens to eat first before he’d even attempt to get close to the food bowl.
This special boy stole the hearts of the staff, volunteers and visitors at the cattery. He especially stole the hearts of Melanie and Dewald Snyman, who have now adopted him into their family.
Gandhi is one of those exceptional cats that we’ve been blessed to be a part of their journey. We believe all cats are special, but in some instances it’s truly humbling and extremely rewarding to be a part of their journey.
We’re delighted that Gandhi has begun his new journey with the Snymans, who previously adopted a little special needs girl named Hoppie.
Hoppie was a kitten when she arrived at the cattery with a severely injured leg. After many vet visits, including x-rays and differing opinions, it was decided that rehabilitation was to be explored in order to keep the leg. Hoppie enjoyed hydrotherapy at Pet Wellness Worx and today, amazingly, she’s still on all four paws.
Gandhi, a very lucky boy, left the cattery with another new sibling – Savannah, a special needs girl with partial sight due to the Herpes virus. They’re settling well together into their new home.
By Melanie Snyman, Gandhi’s new owner
We have a wonderful fur-family of seven kitties at home, ranging in age from one month to 17 years old, including some with special needs.
After adopting Hoppie from the Lucky Lucy Foundation, we found ourselves visiting the cattery over weekends just to share some love, cuddles and donations with the kitties still waiting for homes. We didn’t think we’d fall in love again so soon but this amazing boy and girl stole our hearts. In fact, whenever we arrived, Gandhi knew we were there to see him.
We couldn’t bear being without him
In the process of purchasing a larger property, we left our boy in the care of LLF’s Caryn, Patrys and their team until we could move. After six weeks of visits to the cattery, we realised that we simply couldn’t bear being without him for one more minute and decided to fetch him sooner. Little did we know that he wouldn’t be coming alone…
The second to last weekend, a partially blind girl kitty arrived at the cattery and had a fascinating attachment to Gandhi. My husband, without hesitation, named the little girl Savannah as she snuggled up against his chest. It was easy to see that she chose us as her humans and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Very excited, we counted down the days to the next weekend when we would collect both our perfectly special kitties.
A purrfect home
The long-awaited weekend arrived and we dashed to the cattery. Gandhi and Savannah could sense something exciting was going to happen that day as they sat and waited for us at the cattery gate.
Our home is very well-equipped for any needs our kitties may have. There are pet stairs, walkways, and ramps to reach all surfaces safely; water fountains in each room and delicious food. Of course, toys are strewn across the floor with scratch boxes and posts of all shapes and sizes.
We arrived home and set the two carriers down amongst our other furry kids. Gandhi needed no introduction, and he hopped out as soon as the door opened and started exploring the house. Savannah, a very shy girl, made her way to the nearest couch and hid beneath it for a while.
Cautiously, but without fear, little Gandhi roamed the house room by room. He amazes us with his ability to adapt to his surroundings with ease. Our boy has a fascinating way of sensing things around him with the movement of his head, ears and whiskers. Savannah, a snuggle bug, preferred exploring the house while sitting snug in our arms.
Fab friends forever
After a while, Savannah realised that her friend Gandhi was also in the house and would follow him around. If feeling alone they’d call upon each other to ensure they were never apart. Gandhi is a very vocal boy and mumbles as he walks so that we always know where he is – he’s never too shy to call us for some affection.
Playing catch like tumbleweeds, these two run around the house. Savannah dearly loves her Cat-It Educational Track with a ball. Gandhi is never too far away, sitting beside her as she plays. Naptime is sometimes spent together sharing a bed like two peas in a pod.
At any given time, six or more of our fur kids will be on our bed for a nap. At night Savannah will snuggle up in one of the elevated cat beds against the wall and Gandhi on our bed.
During the short time with us we’ve learnt so much from them and their special abilities. Astonished every day with how clever they are, we look forward to so many memorable moments with these two beautiful kitties.
Watch this space as Gandhi, the great explorer, will be turning frowns upside down with his charms.