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What it's like to own a pet cat with special needs

March 10, 2013, 8:34 pm | This story has an Influence Score of 1141

By kareezafelarca

Mark Carmine is a 23-year-old gentleman from California, United States. He lives with his girlfriend, and is optimistic about marrying her in the near future and start a family. One of the biggest things that they both have in common is their love for animals, especially cats. Apart from animals, Mark also enjoys drawing, anything comedy, gaming, football, and working on cars. He was formerly in the military, but unfortunately couldn't continue on that path due to an injury.

Mark has always been a fan of cats. He loves their strong personalities, and they never cease to amuse him, and warm his heart.

“Not too many guys will admit it, but cats are one of the greatest types of pets you can have!”, he added.

Six years ago, he adopted his cat named Taco. He had another female cat named Snipper living with him before adopting Taco. Snipper is a short haired calico cat that loves being petted, and getting into catnip. She is very friendly, and Mark knew she would enjoy having a companion to spend her days playing and napping around the house with.

Mark had found Taco in an advertisement in the pet section of the local newspaper for kittens. He decided to call and see the lady who posted the ad for adoption. There were four cats, three of which were outgoing, playful, and craving attention. And then there was Taco - the cat who seemed to be extremely frightened of seeing people she didn't know, and was left out in terms of playing and communication with the other kittens. While he would have loved to have one of the frisky little kittens zipping around the house, he knew Taco needed him more than the others. Mark immediately chose her, paid the adoption fee of $10, and took her home.

“When I first saw Taco, I knew something was wrong. I just didn't know exactly what it was. However, I know when most families seek a pet for adoption, they choose the cutest, or friendliest, or most playful - something that stands out. I immediately worried that Taco may not find a family and could possibly end up in a pet shelter. That thought alone was enough for me to decide instantly that she was the one I wanted, because I knew despite whatever it was that was wrong, I could give her a loving, healthy home that she truly deserved”, Mark said.

Shortly after bringing Taco home, they have discovered that she was deaf. It would explain her uneasiness in seeing new people, and being extra anxious about going to a place she didn’t recognize. Mark noticed that his cat didn't perk her ears when he was calling out to her. He thought that Taco was only taking her time in getting comfortable with her new surroundings, but as the time passed by, the more he realized that something was undeniably wrong.

“Taco didn't come running when I poured food into her bowl, or turn when a sound was made in another room. After bringing her to the veterinarian for vaccinations, it was confirmed that she could not hear. I was given instructions on how to be more attentive to her needs to help her feel comfortable, and keep her safe”, Mark said.

Taco is a large, fluffy, grey and white Maine Coon cat. This particular breed is known to be kind of a quirky cat, and Taco definitely fits that description. It took her some time to warm up and trust her surroundings. But after a few weeks, she started to adjust with everything.

“She is a very physical cat, and will gently paw at your hand when near you to let you know she wants to be petted, or more than anything - to let you know whatever piece of food you have in your hand, that she would like a sample! She knows how to play fetch, and enjoys playing pretty often. We bought a bunch of toy mice, balls, string - you name it! But her favorite fetch toy ended up being a balled up piece of paper! Her sleeping arrangements are amusing as well. Anything she could fit in, on, or near, she would sleep or lay in. From cardboard soda boxes, to large bowls, even the bathroom sink. While napping in the sink, she would often get her water fix by licking directly from the faucet. Taco ended up loving to be around people (when comfortable with them) - and Snipper, and would divide her time amongst us on a constant basis. Whenever I go from one place to another, I could count on her being about 8 inches behind me, with her fluffy tail held straight up in the air following wherever I go”, he said.

Mark has been through a few challenges by having a cat who is deaf. Taco is easily startled, due to the fact that a cat's sense of hearing is a crucial part of their everyday lives. When meeting new people, Taco would often hide, whereas Snipper would cheerfully come sniff whoever was at the door. It was sometimes hard for Taco to warm up because she couldn't hear the tone of voice that people had towards her. Oftentimes, animals would quickly like a stranger by solely hearing a soft or friendly pitch, but in Taco’s case, she could only judge them solely from body language. Mark would usually tell people to let Taco be the one to approach them, and not to make any rapid movements as to not scare her. On a humorous note, one of their constant challenges with Taco being deaf is that they can’t yell for her to get down whenever she jumps on the counters or tables. Mark personally thinks that Taco takes advantage of it, as he has had to get up every time and scoop her off the counters or table tops. Taco just loves attention.

“I love Taco’s amusing personality, her large and fluffy body, and the silly meows she makes. The pitch of her meow is a bit off and very cute! I love her loyalty, her playfulness, and her longing for feline, as well as human companionship. The only thing I really hate is that Taco won't ever get to experience sounds. The sound of my voice, the sound of her cat food hitting her bowl, the sound of the birds chirping outside as she lays in the window pane..., Mark added.

Taco is not just a pet, but a good companion that makes life sweeter for Mark. One evening, a couple years back, Mark was having an especially bad night. Nothing had gone right the whole day, and he was happy to just lay down, go to sleep, and start afresh in a new, hopefully better mood on the following day. While laying in bed, he started hearing a soft, distant noise coming from his door. Mark sat up and realized that Taco was watching him from his doorway. He believe Taco sensed something wrong that made her approach him.

“She was purring even before jumping onto my bed, happy to see me. She walked along my legs and made her way toward my face and lifted her big furry paw (she has such long fur all over that it sticks out between her paw pads!) and proceeded to tap her paw toward my cheek. I lowered my head where she then nudged her forehead into mine, spun around in a small circle to get comfortable, and laid on my lap. I truly believe she knew I was feeling bad, and that was her way of saying ‘It's cool Mark, I'm here for you’. She stayed with me the entire night and I woke up with her laying near my feet. Such a loyal cat she is”, he said.

Mark originally thought that he was doing Taco a favor when he adopted her, but it turned out that it was him who benefited the greatest. Mark began to view life on a much better perspective, and learned to understand disabilities in both people and animals.

“Taco is an amazing cat. One thing I learned from having her is even if you do have a disability, it doesn't mean you're doomed, or are forever going to lead an unhappy life. Yes, in some ways, life can be more difficult. But in the end, you're not different than anyone else. You still love the same, whether you're deaf, blind, purple, or green. I have learned patience, a greater sense of understanding, and optimism. While I don't particularly like or enjoy the fact that Taco cannot hear, I wouldn't change one thing about her. To be honest, I don't think she would either. Look within when it comes to love. If I ever decide to adopt again in the future, I would be more than happy to welcome another animal with special needs. I would welcome them in my home without second thoughts!”

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