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24 June 2019, 14:13
Born without tear ducts or pupils, the seven-year-old grey and white moggy was saved from a life of neglect – and now has 30,000 followers
Louie the blind cat had a heartbreaking start to life after he was cast aside by his mother, litter and previous owners.
But the cute, cloudy-eyed kitty has now become an internet sensation after being recused by moggy-lover Kerry Denman.
The London-based feline fan began sharing her pet's inspiring story on Instagram earlier this year and has now racked up a whopping 30,000 followers.
Born without tear ducts or pupils, she watched as her beloved kitten learnt to use his whiskers and ears to navigate the world around him.
Now, as he fights kidney disease, a curved spine and a leg that doesn't function properly, Kerry opens up to Metro.co.uk about Louie's inspiring life in a bid to raise awareness of disabled animals for Cat Week.
She explained: "I’d been in a new flat for a few years, I was trying to keep it pristine and so as much as I had this urge for a cat as I’d had one throughout my childhood, I think I was putting off the responsibility.
"To compensate I’d sometimes visit friends etc who had kittens just to feed that need for cat contact. That’s how I found him. ‘A family who lived near my parents had kittens and I stopped by just for hugs, never intending to take one.
"I don’t think the owners quite realised this, as when I walked in the room she quickly told me 'not to bother with that one over there as he has something wrong with his eyes'. He was a tiny bundle of fluff curled up high on a laundry basket."
She continued: "I left that day with a knot in my stomach. I got the impression the owners were leaving this kitten to die.
"He’d been rejected by his mother and litter (his mother a moggie, his father was a stray). As the owners immediately told me to ignore him, I had to assume they didn’t think he warranted interest to be adopted. What did that mean? He’d end up in a shelter? Or worse?
"I couldn’t stop thinking about it but was scared at the prospect of taking on a kitten who was blind (though at that stage I didn’t know if he had cataracts or not). I turned to the internet.
"Seven years ago the special needs cat community on Instagram didn’t exist like it does today but I found some forums that said blind cats can live a perfectly normal life with a little patience and understanding.
"I decided to go back for him a few days later. I gave the owner £10 to go toward having her moggie spayed and took him home."
She added: "It wasn’t treatable. He has no pupils or tear ducts. His eyes also flicker a lot which I’ve been told might be neurological. I have never had a proper diagnosis as to what exactly has caused Louie’s eyes to be that way. It would involve putting him through some intensive tests and I don’t want to do that just to give myself an answer. He doesn’t care about the reason and if I can’t fix it then why should I?
"He also has patellar luxation in all his legs which is more commonly found in dogs. It means his knees dislocate slightly when he walks. In seven years he’s had one incident that led to him not being able to put weight on one of his legs and so I had to crate him for a month.
"Since then he’s been fine. Through this he had a full body scan which revealed his skeleton is just slightly off, it’s curved in ways it shouldn’t be but this isn’t noticeable and doesn’t seem to cause him problems.
"He was diagnosed with stage two kidney disease in December 2018 which has stabilised for now."
On learning of his heartbreaking ailments, she said social media says: "The reason we set up the Instagram account is actually really sad. I woke up one morning to find blood on his mouth and we took him to the vet to find what looked like a massive tumour under his tongue.
"The vet told us it was very likely Squamous Cell Carcinoma and to be prepared to have him put to sleep very soon as it was an aggressive cancer that he would not recover from. We were told they would debulk the mass for his comfort and send it away to be biopsied but that they were certain of the diagnosis and they didn’t want Louie to be in pain.
"It was probably one of the worst weeks of my life as I couldn’t understand. He was fine otherwise, eating, going to loo and playing. But the vet told me “He’s hiding his pain. It’s what cats do”.
"I was making decisions about how I would have him put to sleep, picking a container for his ashes and crying constantly."
But when the vet gave Kerry the results, she was told there were no cancer but instead bacteria and an infection.
"At first, I didn’t trust it. I had spent a week grieving and now he wasn’t dying? The vets were just as shocked as us; they’d never seen something that looked like what was in his mouth not be SCC. They had no answer to what might have caused the mass.
"We were prescribed steroids and an antibiotic jab and would need to bring him back weekly.
"I was angry, someone else might have had him put to sleep that same week because they were so certain he was ultimately dying. But I came to realise that this is one of the risks of trying to speak for an animal, a vet won’t always get it right and will be so concerned about that animals welfare that they may be rash.
"I learned a massive lesson from that ordeal, never be certain in something until you have the results in front of you."
Kerry went on to explain that she started Louie's Instagram account at the beginning on March 2019 initially as a memorial.
She said: "Thinking I was going to lose him has made me realise that he won’t be around forever and I want a place that’s just him."
But while he's still going strong, she and her partner try to focus on the positives instead.
"He’s so sweet and loving in his own way. He gives us nose kisses. He lays between my legs in bed but never sits on laps," she added.
"He lets cat dad hold him for small amounts of time. He sits at the balcony smelling the air and listening to the birds. He loves Dreamies and catnip. He has the sweetest, littlest meows that makes my heart happy."