Surrounded by a world of unfamiliarity and danger, Mr Jarlsberg (now Charlie) spent the beginning of his life in the dark.
The one-year-old moggy was almost blind and could barely see a metre in front of him. He was forced to go it alone, without a home or a family.
No doubt he would have been living in constant fear and on high alert for potential hazards, never able to relax or let his guard down.
Thankfully he was discovered by our rescue team and brought to the safety of our Lonsdale shelter.
Blind from the very beginning
Upon examination, our vet team diagnosed him with cataracts in both eyes and suspected microphthalmia, a malformation that makes his eyes smaller than normal.
Sadly, he was born with these conditions, which have resulted in his blindness. Our vet team were surprised to see cataracts in a cat at such an early stage of their life.
Due to the unique nature of Charlie’s condition our vet team sort out the expertise of specialist Dr Tony Read, an external vet ophthalmologist.
A sightless cat has never shone brighter
It didn’t take long for Charlie’s gentle temperament and loving nature to capture the hearts of both the staff and volunteers.
The vet team had already named him after their favourite cheese (Jarlsberg) because they thought he was sweet, slightly nutty and a distinguished young man.
For foster carer Peter Cameron it was love at first sight.
“I’d known him for two to three weeks and I knew he was a lovely cat. I knew he required surgery and thought it would be less stressful on his recovery if he stayed at mine,” he said.
Adjusting to a new home
During the weeks leading up to his surgery, Peter couldn’t help but notice how difficult life had been for the poor cat.
Peter realised that Charlie was unable to enjoy the nimble and acrobatic lifestyle his other cats took for granted.
“When he came into our home, he was very tentative and unsure. He found it difficult to navigate his environment, and was constantly trying to figure out what was in front of him”, said Peter.
“He was extremely cautious around the edges of furniture and heights. He wouldn’t jump down because he couldn’t see what was there.”
Charlie’s second chance
With a generous reduction to his surgery bill by Dr Read and an outpouring of donations made by some kind-hearted supporters, Charlie was able to receive the life-changing operation he desperately needed.
On his return home, Peter watched anxiously for any signs of improvement.
“At first I was worried the surgery hadn’t been successful but I was assured it could take up to four weeks to start seeing improvement,” said Peter.
“After a couple of weeks, I started to see a completely different cat. It was like Charlie was a kitten all over again. He was just loving every minute of it.”
Looking towards the future
With his vision restored, Charlie could finally enjoy the perks of being a cat. He quickly established a love for climbing and overcame his fear of heights.
“He jumps over couches, he runs and plays with the other cats and loves to scale his climbing tower,” explained Peter.
“He loves to be picked up and cuddled. He will follow me around in the morning, rubbing up against my legs until I pick him up for a hug. He’s very demanding about his morning ritual.”
It didn’t take long for Charlie to become another foster fail. Peter says he couldn’t imagine life without him now.
Disclaimer: We never found out why Mr Jarlsberg’s name was changed to Charlie – Maybe Peter is lactose intolerant (cheesy we know) 😉
If you’re considering opening your heart and home to a rescued animal-like Charlie, head over here to see all our animals currently available for adoption.
A special thank-you to everyone who helped give Mr Jarlsberg / Charlie a second chance at life by donating to his emergency fund!