Stevie the Wonder Cat

10th Jan, 2018

Written by Caryn Allan, Treasurer at The Lucky Lucy Foundation

Professional photography by Kym Clayton Photography

We are delighted and somewhat relieved to be introduced to Stevie the Wonder Cat and his equally lovely mother cat, Harla Mae Hardaway.

Born blind

Their journey to the Lucky Lucy Foundation (LLF) began on the 30th of May 2017, when we received an email plea from animal-lover Kim Marais: “Please can you help network this: I received a call from a woman living at Saartjie Baartman Centre for abused women and children in Manenberg. A cat arrived there and had a kitten, which is blind. Her daughter loves them and they thus desperately need help getting them sterilised. Please can anyone help with this?”

We offered to take the kitten, as blind animals have special needs and have to be homed to specific homes. It was with huge thanks to Kim Marais, who is invaluable to both welfares and individuals. Her dedication, tenacity and compassion is seldom acknowledged and the countless hours she spends trying to match lost and found cats and network them for homes if unclaimed is appreciated; she never gives up and follows up continuously. 

Mommy and me

Kim spent months trying to contact the lady who initially had Stevie in order to have him surrendered to us and his mother sterilised; Kim was involved with this rescue from the outset.

On Tuesday, the 25th of July, we rushed off to the centre only to be told that the kitten had left the previous week with the lady and her daughter who had lived there; the centre staff had tried to crate his mother but she eluded them. We agreed that day to make a space for both of them until they could be adopted. But first we had to find the kitten…

We knew it was him

On Friday, the 28th of July, we came across this notice from someone in Tableview: “This beautiful special-needs boy is currently in a cage at the vet and needs his own special foster or forever home, please. This young, blind kitty was surrendered to a local vet. Such a sweet, loving cat must be about six months old and seems to have been born without eyes… This kitty can have a good quality of life. There must be a special cat-loving family where he will be kept indoors and be loved for who he is….”

What were the chances? We just KNEW it was him! It was the home stretch and we had to try once again to reunite mom and son. The vet kindly agreed to release him to us and even neutered him. 

In good hands

Anyway, we rushed to the Saartjie Baartman Centre on Friday afternoon. We did not dare breathe until the message came: “Got the mom in the trap – on my way to farm”. And that was that: it was signed and sealed and he was delivered to LLF on Saturday afternoon.

Stevie’s eyes were removed by our compassionate and wonderful vets at Bergzicht Malmesbury. And he’s been adopted by the Viljoen family, a wonderful family who previously adopted another cat, ironically also named Stevie, from Lucky Lucy.

Harla Mae is enjoying her retirement and whilst we’d hoped to home them together, she has her own ideas about the home she chooses.

Chris Viljoen, Stevie’s owner, remembers browsing through his Facebook feed when he came across Stevie’s story: “On the day Stevie Wonder’s photo popped up I really didn’t need to think twice; I emailed Lucky Lucy as to whether he was still available and, from there, the rest just fell into place.

“We have a couple of furballs running around here at home; every is one a rescue and each has a tale to tell. We’ve previously adopted from both Raise n Rescue and Lucky Lucy Foundation, and I follow them on Facebook.”

Chris explains, “Generally, people tend to be very willing to adopt infants but are a lot more reserved when it comes to the older animals, and especially ones with special needs.”

Undaunted and ready for the future

But Chris wasn’t at all put off by Stevie’s blindness and went to meet him and make his acquaintance as soon as he could. The two hit it off straight away: “Judging by his reaction, I think we both knew right away we would be best friends.”

Although Chris wasn’t discouraged by Stevie’s special need, he decided to arm himself with plenty of information while awaiting the black-and-white kitten’s arrival. So, when he was chauffeured home by LLF’s Patrys Niemand, Chris and his wife were prepared for all eventualities.

Stevie himself wasn’t daunted at all. Says Chris, “I think it took all of a minute for Stevie Wonder to start investigating his new surroundings. By the time evening came, he had already made himself at home on our bed. And, as they say, the rest is history.”

Stevie the wonder kitten living the good life

Chris explains that Stevie fits in beautifully with the family: “He sleeps on the bed with my wife and me, sometimes in her arms. By day he runs around, exploring the house, jumping on the furniture, and doing pretty much everything his adopted brothers and sisters do. His lack of sight has not slowed him down; he is every bit as quick around the house as the others. His keen sense of smell and hearing seem to be more acutely developed, so his navigation around obstacles, jumping up and down off couches, etc. is pretty incredible.

“He is a loving soul, very much at home in my arms. He keeps me company when I work from home, and he is becoming more playful with the others. He has not ventured outside yet, that will take time, but his circle of exploration grows by the day. He’s easily frightened by unknown sounds, so we do our best to talk to him when we approach him, and we limit the amount of noise as far as possible.

“Special-needs animals are a little more effort, but are so rewarding for the animals and their owners. Their love knows no boundaries, and I believe their souls are extra special. Giving any one of them a second chance in life is an incredible journey, they overcome, they adapt and live life to the fullest.”

Watch Stevie in action here: