Joel-the-cat’s holistic healing story—the beginning

joel_robert_closeup-285x300 Joel-the-cat’s holistic healing story—the beginning special needs cat holistic cat care cat with one eye cat adoption
Joel’s an expert at snuggling in close!

I’ve been looking forward to telling you Joel’s healing stories because I think you will get inspiration from them.

And honestly, I just love to talk about Joel.

“He’s the only cat I’ve met who starts purring just because you’re looking at him.”

That’s how Robert described little Joel after his first week with us.

Joel is quite a character. He gets so excited about his little soccer balls that when he’s carrying one in his mouth he makes a high-pitched squealing sound—it’s nothing I’ve ever heard from a cat before!

Joel had a rap sheet

Though he’s not even two years old yet, he’s surely gone through several of his 9 lives:

  • He was a rescue cat who, at 5 months old, had already been through several temporary owners and a shelter or two.
  • The shelter said he had “quite a rap sheet”–his medical folder was already thick.
  • He’d been afflicted with severe ear mites, fleas, and glaucoma. To protect him from the glaucoma infection, a doctor had removed one of his eyes!
  • He had a birth defect in his tail, which is to say he was missing about 1/4 of it.
  • He had scab-like bumps on his ear.
  • He was treated for tapeworm and an upper respiratory infection before we adopted him.
  • When we got him home, we noticed more problems:
    • He had a strange skin condition—the scab-like bumps on his ear were also on his chin and legs.
    • His nails had a very strong-smelling fungus on them.
    • He tended toward severe constipation—in fact, it became life threatening.
    • His fur coat was rather dull and dry for a kitten.

More on these last 4 conditions later…

but don’t worry, these stories have happy endings, I promise!

I had a strange dream

I hate to admit that originally a kitten in his condition—and missing an eye–would not have been my first choice.

But, I’ve changed. I had a dream right before I met Joel:

In my dream a woman had adopted a kitten who then developed a disability. Suddenly this woman no longer wanted the kitten. She was walking away from the kitten, but I could feel how much the kitten loved her and wanted to be with her. The kitten was trying to follow her.

 I wanted desperately to yell out to her about her mistake. I wanted her to feel the kitten’s love for her—how could she leave him? How could she not love him back?

It was heart wrenching and I woke up with the feeling still strong in my chest.

Two days later we met Joel and his dearest friend, the beautiful 6-month old Blue we named Phil.

Joel just wouldn’t stop purring at us—so loudly!—and snuggling. I fell in love with both of them in minutes. It was a done deal!

Get this–we soon learned that Joel and Phil and had been adopted a couple weeks earlier, but were returned when the adopter got spooked by the idea that Joel might get glaucoma again and lose another eye. She abandoned them! Just like in my dream. Sad, because once kittens are 6 months old their chances of being adopted slim down considerably. Yet happy—because then we got to adopt them!

Very nimble indeed

Though one eye is “closed,” Joel has turned out to be very nimble indeed. I can see absolutely no hindrance in his abilities to jump, chase, play soccer, wrestle, and cause trouble. In fact, he navigates table legs and other obstacles faster than Phil does. (If you’ve read Homer’s Odyssey, about an amazing blind cat, this won’t surprise you.)

Part two of Joel’s health story

My very next blog post is part two. That’s where I’ll start to explain how, with a holistic vet’s assistance, we have helped Joel put those health problems behind him.

Have you ever unexpectedly adopted a special-needs cat?

I invite you to share your experience in the comments area below this post.

Love to hear your thoughtful thoughts! Leave a reply...


  1. Hi Liz,

    Wow, Joel has sure been through it all, hasn’t he? He sounds like a wonderful, loving cat. Great to hear he can still pop around so well and fully engage in cat activities.

    I once had a cat who had neuropathy in his hind legs. He was a diabetic. But he was the biggest teddy bear of the bunch at the time. Like your cat, he purred when we looked at him. He was so happy and sweet all the time.

    Love the stories in the other comments too.

    Thanx for sharing,

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

  2. We actually have two special needs cats. [though I hesitate to call them that because they are just the same as their siblings. One extremely cold morning last year, someone brought a cat to the ambulance station where I work. Initially I thought she’d passed already. She was nearly frozen in some places and her entire face except her little nose was crusted over from a respiratory infection gone rampant. But then she reached a little paw up and I was smitten. I warmed her w/towels from the dryer until I got off work, then took her immediately to our vet [who is great]. He said the infection in her eyes was so bad that both eyes would have to be removed. Thanks to a lot of help from Alana at the Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary, the decision was made to do the surgery and hope she survived the respiratory infection. She did. She is now healthy and up to 6 pounds [from less than 2 when she was found]. She can outrun her siblings [8 of them]. She climbs the cat tree, jumps from furniture, just does anything she wants. She doesn’t let her blindness slow her down one bit.

    Two months ago, we went to drop off some paperwork for a rescue group I work with occasionally and met Raider. He is a Russian Blue who had to have one eye removed. I don’t know all of the details yet, [waiting for medical records], but I know he came from a drug house after a meth lab bust. He was only a few months old when we met him. I fell in love instantly. The woman who runs the organization was worried that someone would abuse him. I think she was happy to know that we were anxious to adopt him because she knew he would be safe and loved w/us. We have another cat from this group. He was supposed to be a foster, but we just couldn’t let him go. They are spoiled rotten [as all cats should be]. We love them and all of their siblings more than I can ever express. They are all equally precious to us.

    1. Reneda, what heartening rescue stories. More proud members of the tribe of eyesight-impaired cats! It’s good to hear about your happy, well-loved cat clan.

  3. Hanicapable, thats what I call our Trooder. I adopted Troo in 2008, after my older Aby girl had passed due to kidney failure. When I first saw Troo he was quiet and in a cage at an adoption event. I bent down and peered in his cage and saw this beige hairy kitty staring out at me. I didnt realize that he had special needs when I saw him – he doesnt walk right due to a problem with tendons in his front leg. His limp is noticeable but his personality outshines it 1,000,000 %! The lady at the adoption event tried to give me a discount because he wasn’t a “normal” cat, I gave them the full fee for his adoption, after all he was a cat in need of a home, who really is normal to me.

  4. That really is quiet the story and such a beautiful baby!!! You left a note for me, and yes, the kitty has had all her medical needs taken care of and is doing nicely. She just needs a loving home, but hooray, I’ve got some leads.

    1. Thank you Brian, we think he’s beautiful too! And what a relief to hear about the kitty and the leads you’ve got. Bless you for your good work.

  5. My husband and I adopted a male orange tabby in 2002. The poor boy had already been adopted at one shelter and dumped at another (he was WILD). We went ahead, because he was so full of personality. We named him Flynn.

    A little over a year later, when Flynn was almost 2 years old, he had a serious urinary blockage that required a middle-of-night trip to the vet and a hefty bill. He stayed unblocked for a few days, then blocked up again. Rather than go through this periodically, the vet performed a P.U. surgery, and, combined with a special diet, Flynn has been able to successfully pass any crystals that occur.

    As you can imagine, that surgery was not cheap. Flynn has also had other medical issues through the years (he is now 9 years old), including a rodent ulcer (on his mouth) and herpes in his eyes. Again, diagnosing and treating is not cheap. He was also dangerously close to having diabetes, but we were able to ward that off with a special diet. And the food Flynn scarfs to this day? Not cheap either.

    But he’s worth every penny, and then some.

    1. Juliet, good for you guys for taking on the wild Flynn that others passed up and seeing him through all his health issues. Sure sounds like he was meant for you!

  6. In 2002, I decided to get my cat a friend. He was 5 at the time and I thought it would be best to get a young female who could play with him and keep him company. So I looked through the newspaper and found an ad for a 4-month-old calico female. So I called them up to ask about her and they said that she only had one eye due to an infection she and another sibling contracted at birth. I figured that since she had at least one eye, she probably wouldn’t be a problem. So I took her in and got her eye socket sewn shut, and nothing has stopped her from acting like a “normal” cat!! I call her my one-eyed wonder kitty. She’s great!!!

    1. Thanks Molly, it’s so great that you adopted her and it worked out well for everybody. Isn’t it amazing how *not* slowed down she is? I don’t even really think I can say that Joel has any special needs because of his eye.