Love At First Sight

11th Aug, 2021

Written by Vanessa Courtenay, Media Relations: Harties Feral Cat Rescue

Professional photography by @Strike a Pose Photo / Video

On the 16th of March, Jill Heidenrich, feral guardian of our Roos se Oord colony, received word of a sick kitten in an area of the farm where we have no feral colony. Jill found a wounded and sickly kitten but from experience knew there must be more kittens. She spent the next two days searching, joined on the 18th by Joanne, and they located momma and her two remaining babies under a Wendy house on the property. The kittens joined their brother in high-care at Broederstroom Vet, and momma was trapped for sterilisation.

These three little souls – named Cashew, Nemo and Zip – were desperately ill. As a pro-life organisation, we were determined to fight for their lives! It soon became evident that Zippy had lost his sight and one eye would need to be removed. Dr Le performed the surgery and, armed with plenty of medication, Joanne (Jo) Kontaxopolous-Rabe, founder of Harties Feral Cat Rescue, became Zippy’s at-home ICU nurse.

The huge cone he had to wear to protect him from scratching never dampened his wonderful gentle spirit; he walked around the kitten room as if sighted and even roughhoused with the other kittens.

One by one his friends were adopted, but, at the time, no one felt that they could cope with a blind kitten. Zippy continued to welcome new kittens into the kitten room, playing the role of adoring big brother – even allowing the little ones to suckle on him – while we prayed for a perfect home.

One day in June, the Besada family visited the kitten room to choose two kittens for their eldest daughter, Isabella. Sister Deedee came along for the ride, and when she saw Zippy, there was an instant connection! She begged her mom to take Zippy home, but mom was hesitant about taking on a special needs cat. Mom said that they’d talk about it, and Jo recalls thinking, “Nah, Zippy doesn’t stand a chance!” Hours later, Jo got the call: “We’re on our way back and we’re coming for Zippy!”

Deedee is Zippy’s – now named Moe – full-time caregiver, and she wrote a little story to share with readers.

Hello, my name is Deedee, and I am 11 years old. I am also a huge animal lover. One day I went with my sister to fetch the two kittens she was adopting from Joanne at Harties Feral Cat Rescue. When I walked into the kitten room, I immediately fell in love with Zippy (aka Moe), who is blind and only has one eye, this made him special to me. 

On the way home, I begged my mom to let me adopt him as I couldn’t stop thinking about him. When we got home, my mom agreed to let me adopt him and we got in the car and drove straight back to Harties to fetch him. When I picked up Moe to take him to the car, he was purring so much and we bonded straight away. As soon as we got home, I took him to my room and settled him in with his blue comfort blanket from Joanne. 

I used a toy that made a noise to teach him how to get to his food, water and cat box. 

Moe sleeps on my chest at night; this makes him feel safe and secure. Oh, and he snores really loudly! When he walks around the house, he always calls for me to make sure I’m nearby to him – the sound of my voice makes him feel relaxed. If he is not feeling safe, I pick him up and he puts his paws over my shoulder and sits like a baby.

Moe is just like other cats and loves to play with toys; his favourite toy is a sweet wrapper. I am saving my pocket money to get him one of those big scratch jungle gyms so that he can explore and learn new things. Moe loves to play with my sister’s cats, Tate and Eren, and they get on really well.

Having a blind cat does take a bit more work than a normal cat, but it brings me so much joy to see him happy. This cat is one of the most loving cats I have ever met. A week before I got Moe, I adopted a hamster named Theodore, who also has only one eye. I love both of them so much. And when I’m older, I hope to have my own animal shelter for all sorts of animals.

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