Many cat writers have blind cats but what about a blind writer’s cat? I was curious to know and asked, CWA member Lauren Merryfield, who is blind about her her cat Toby. “He is aware I am blind so he knows that looking at me will not work. He has adapted well, as all of my previous and other current cats have. This is his story of how he came to live with me.”
Toby, Be Quiet!
By Lauren Merryfield
I had suddenly lost my part-Maine coon kitty, Meriwether Lewis (Lewie) Merryfield, due to renal failure. Because his death came with no warning, I felt devastated. However, it was way too quiet in our home for me and my elder cat, Maryah (Mariah with a Y). I had heard that Cat Tales Rescue held cat adoptions every Saturday and Sunday afternoon at Petco, so I rather automatically took myself there.
I heard mews and meows and could not decide if I wanted a kitten or a grown cat. I was leaning toward a grown cat when a volunteer placed an almost-tuxedo kitten in my lap. I say “almost” because he does have a white bib and feet, with a black suit, as a tuxedo cat would have, but with some black spots on his mostly-white paws and a white “smile” on one cheek, according to a friend of mine. He was tiny and wiry. He was mewing loudly, climbing up to my shoulder. When he mewed in my ear, I knew that he was mine.
His foster family had named him Reebok but the name Toby jumped out from him. Tobias Reebok (Toby) Merryfield was adopted on Earth Day three years ago.This cat has huge eyes, always on the alert. He is what I would consider overly anxious, however, I think he believes he needs to be the cat police around here. He is the spokeskitty for himself and Maryah, and, a year later, Lelaynya (Laynie), a tortoise shell kitty.
Toby generally has one prominent meow. It goes “wah-hew!” I’ve been owned by cats who have more of a vocabulary than Toby has, however, his inflection of that one main word is amazing. He can sound friendly, concerned, frantic and downright whiny. I’ve never had a whiny cat before, but now I have one. I love the sound of meow except when he whines. At those times I am likely to say “Toby, be quiet!”
Does he obey me? Do cats obey us?
On several occasions I realized that Toby knew I could not see. When I dropped a small object onto the floor, Toby would walk over to it,placing his front feet on either side of the object. When he did this the first time, I considered it a fluke. But now I know it is his deliberate means of helping me.Toby also anxiously sits in the wooden tray where his cans of food are stacked, meowing in a concerned tone because he knows there are only several cans left. I mean, it is almost like that cat can count! I’ve also caught him looking down into the open container of dry food, with his paws placed on the top edge, as he meows with concern.
Toby has a favorite toy-a laser toy. He jumps all over the place trying to catch that ever-elusive darting light. I hear him clamoring against the wall, up against a bookshelf and jumping back down onto the floor.
One day Toby was in frantic alert mode. I could not figure out why he was meowing so insistently. The next day, a friend of mine visited us, informing me that there were ants in the kitties’ food bowl. Evidently they were stinging Toby’s face as he tried to eat. Such is the life of a cat living on the ground level. He gives me similar alert tones when fleas are present in our apartment.
Though they always have dry food, so they are not going to starve, Toby goes into instant alert/starvation mode for canned food. All three of them eat it, but he is always the one who begs for it.
When I am tired, and Toby’s high-pitched “wah-hew!” grates on my nerves and ears, I rather sternly tell him:”Toby! Be quiet!” However,it occurred to me the other day that I will not always have my beloved Toby. There will come a day, I am sure, when I will long for each one of those rather strident meows. When he breathes his last, he will, indeed, be quiet.So, okay. Go ahead, Toby. Let your opinions and concerns be known.
Toby, be quiet!-only in your sleep.
Lauren Merryfield lives in Fairfield, California with her three cats: Maryah, Toby and Laynie. She is the author of There’s More Than One Way to Love a Cat and There’s More Than One Way To Be Okay:A blind Woman’s PURRspective On Life.
Editor’s note: Many of our members are attending and/or presenting at Blogpaws, the premier pet blogging conference this week. If you are attending, please send your favorite pic or two from the conference for inclusion in a photo montage for a blog post.