What I learned from Clarence, the Blind Cat

What I learned from Clarence, the Blind Cat

Our local colony of feral cats knew that Clarence was different. He wasn’t quite like them. I suspect that he once had some human interaction in his life, because unlike the feral cats, he wouldn’t run away from the slightest hint of human presence. He seemed quite gentle, and although he wouldn’t let anyone touch him, he would let me get very close to him. His most notable feature was also his greatest handicap. Both eyes were clouded over, leaving him blind.

The feral cats treated him as the outsider that he was, and they let him know that he was unwelcome in their group. Some would savagely attack him, and given his non-violent nature and limited vision, he had a hard time defending himself. As a result, he suffered many serious wounds.

For years we had a small shelter on our front porch for our own (spoiled) indoor/outdoor cat, but over the years he used it less and less. A couple of years ago we looked out the front window and saw Clarence asleep in it! After that, he would show up randomly, and when he did we would put some food out for him. Soon our house became a routine stop on his daily, memorized rounds of our neighborhood. My husband and I would softly talk to him, and he gradually started to trust us; almost enough to let us pet him.

A couple of weeks ago, Clarence didn’t show up in our yard or on our porch. A few more days went by with no sighting of him by us or our neighbors. Slowly, the heart breaking realization set in that Clarence was probably gone for good.shutterstock_204950149

During the short time that I knew Clarence, he taught me some important lessons:

  1. Always Get Back Up

His resilience and determination helped him miraculously heal from countless, severe wounds inflicted by the feral cats. No matter what, Clarence never gave up. He was a survivor.

  1. Be Adaptable

Because of his relative comfort around humans, I suspect that Clarence once had another home and was dumped in our neighborhood. He adapted to his new environs, learning the rules of the feral cats and finding food, shelter (and sympathetic humans!).

We watched him slowly lose his sight. At first it was only one eye. Then his clear eye became as clouded as the other. He somehow adapted, using his other senses to navigate through the neighborhood and find the food that we, and our neighbors, left for him.

  1. Accept help

Like other cats and me, Clarence was independent in nature. He had to learn to accept and count on help from others. Help from others makes our lives less lonely and dangerous.

4. Savor Time With Loved Ones

Life is unpredictable. There is no guarantee that those I love will be on Earth tomorrow. I want to savor every minute with them and never take them for granted.

5. Love freely

God, I loved Clarence. I loved the way he looked at me, showing his gentle soul. I loved his thick mangy, uncombed fur. I loved the way he would smell, search and then gobble down, a rare treat of real meat that I would leave for him. I loved how he would lounge on our welcome mat soaking up the sun. I loved the way his ears would perk up when he recognized my voice. I loved his desire to remain a free outdoor cat. Most of all, I loved his conflicted desire to be loved. Even though I offered him my unconditional love, like many of us, he didn’t know how to fully receive it. Freely giving him my love, though, opened my heart. He taught me how to embrace my flaws and love the “flaws” and “blindness” in others.

Thank you Clarence, for teaching me these valuable lessons. When my time comes, we will cross rainbow bridge together and I will finally hold you in my arms.

 

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