When Mary M. glimpsed a Facebook video of two kittens, Baba and Tamacti, who were available for adoption, she says her “heart was gone.”
Baba, who is blind, and his brother, Tamacti, are a bonded pair.
“I took one look at Baba’s face and my heart just melted,” says the retired registered nurse. “I said, ‘They’re kittens, and I’m 70, and they will outlive me.’ But I couldn’t stop thinking about them.”
A week later, Mary saw them on Facebook again.
“That time, I said, ‘I don’t care if they outlive me—I will put them in my living trust.’ I just had to have them. And who was going to want to take this little blind boy? I knew I had the time and love to give them both.”
The brothers quickly adjusted to Mary’s home in California’s Antelope Valley.
“It’s obvious that someone had shown them a lot of attention,” says Mary.
“I credit whoever fostered them with giving them a lot of love.”
From Rescue to Foster Care
Baba and Tamacti were relinquished to the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center in Baldwin Park, California, in June 2021. Arlene Hall, a Registered Veterinary Technician for the ASPCA’s LA Kitten Foster Program, remembers the pair’s personality—and Baba’s need for medical intervention—and selected them for the foster program.
“Baba had an untreated, severe respiratory infection,” says Arlene. “We try to help as many kittens with special needs, like medical or behavior challenges, as we can.”
Dr. Casey Connors, Veterinary Program Manager in Los Angeles, determined the most humane option would be to remove both of Baba’s eyes due to the previously untreated infection, and he performed the enucleation surgery.
Vanesa Diaz, a Registered Veterinary Technician who often takes on special needs kittens, fostered the pair for a month. Afterward, Gal Z., an ASPCA foster caregiver since 2018, took over for the next six months. Gal’s husband, Orpaz, named the pair after characters in an Apple television program.
“He loved playing with them,” says Gal, who has fostered dozens of cats and kittens for the ASPCA. “He found out that Baba likes to slide across the floor. And during COVID, we worked from home, so we spent a lot of time with them.”
Gal reports that Baba was always friendly, relaxed and curious, while Tamacti was more cautious.
“In nature, Baba would not survive, but with humans, he is so relatable,” she says.
Gal transitioned both cats from a large dog crate to her living room using treats and toys.
“They love to play together,” she says. “Baba calls Tam when he wants him, and Tam comes running. Tam is more of a lap cat. But they’re very interested in each other.”
As Baba recovered from surgery, he gained weight. But he never lacked confidence, according to Gal.
When Gal and Orpaz left for a vacation in December, the bonded brothers were placed with another foster caregiver.
“We missed them,” says Gal. “It’s hard to let them go—they were part of the family. And Baba gets into your heart. He’s a special little guy.”
“It feels amazing to have given these cats a good start,” she adds. “But I’m glad they found a home so we can foster more.”
Baba and Tamacti’s final foster caregiver was Pasadena resident Jessica L., who stepped in for a month before the pair were adopted on January 20.
“I love having kittens around,” says Jessica. “It’s so rewarding.”
Jessica had never cared for a blind animal and was surprised how quickly they adjusted and how protective Tam was over his brother.
On To Adoption
Ariel Collins, the ASPCA’s Senior Manager of Animal Placement and Logistics, connected would-be adopter Mary to Jessica during a virtual meet-and-greet over Zoom.
“I could tell Mary was a caring person when I first spoke with her about adopting,” says Ariel. “She has a lot of love to give.”
During the Zoom call, the kittens were alert and active, which accurately and importantly conveyed their true at-home behavior, which isn’t always obvious in an adoption center setting.
“They had slept all day, but for Mary, they hammed it up,” Jessica says. “They cuddled and showed off their true personalities. Mary committed to adopting them that day.”
“Every adoption I help facilitate is rewarding, but it’s extra special when I can help a cat like Baba find a loving home,” says Ariel. “And the fact that Baba was adopted with his brother makes it even better.”
Giving A Blind Pet A Chance
Because Mary once owned a blind cat, she knew to prepare her home by removing potentially dangerous obstacles. Baba quickly committed the landscape of Mary’s house to memory.
“He is so brave it’s amazing,” Mary says. “It’s like he had been here forever. His brother Tam—at 17 lbs.—is a big gentle giant. Baba—10 lbs.—will plop down anywhere on top of Tam. The love between these boys is phenomenal. They even sleep entwined with each other.
“Baba is blessed to have a brother like Tam,” Mary adds. “Tam is the lead, and Baba keeps up with him. They’ll drop and wrestle. Or Baba will sit on my head or ride on the tray of my walker. I’m thoroughly amused by them both.”
For anyone considering a blind pet, Mary says the joy of helping an animal in need is worth the extra effort.
“You’re giving that pet a chance that the average person might turn their back on, and the rewards outweigh any adjustments you may have to make. I’m gratified I was able to give Baba—and Tam—a safe, secure environment where they can flourish.”
“Animals are so much like people when it comes to illnesses and disabilities,” says Mary, reflecting on her 44 years as a nurse. “Baba isn’t disabled; he’s just different.”
Both cats are now settled and thriving.
“I hope we all live a long time,” Mary says. “These two are the loves of my life. And I just don’t know life without a cat.”
If you are interested in fostering for the ASPCA in Los Angeles, please click here for more information.
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