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Patrick Roberts

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Fragments 24

the blind kitten,

originally from Omaha,
now at Seattle

Oskar, the blind kitten, Omaha, Nebraska

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Oskar the blind cat Oskar has become something of an internet sensation and there are a number of video clips of him and his friend and housemate Klaus. Mick Sydlowski from Omaha, Nebraska, who's a collector of vintage musical instruments, and his wife Bethany went to a farm in the country to look at an old autoharp. The instrument's owner also wanted to introduce them to a tiny brown tabby kitten, the last of the litter, which was totally blind. The seller's concern was that if the kitten didn't find a home quickly, he would be killed by a predator or would ultimately end up in a shelter. The couple wasn't looking to adopt a kitten; they already had rescue cat Klaus at home, and were a bit worried at first that Klaus would be upset, since he had openly displayed his displeasure with a kitten they previously tried to adopt.

Cats Oskar and Klaus Cats Oskar and Klaus But they fell in love with Oskar (named after the autoharp's maker, Oskar Schmidt) and so agreed to give him a home. They stopped at their vet's on the way back and, receiving a clean bill of health, the kitten, who was born blind due to a genetic abnormality, became their newest family member. Klaus, a former stray with damaged ears, initially had no interest in becoming Oskar's big brother, but after slow and careful introductions he began to take to the little tyke. And in return Oskar, an insatiably curious and playful youngster, awakened Klaus' 'inner kitten'. Now, like inseparable brothers, they constantly hang out together. Taking on a protective role to prevent serious mishaps, Klaus keeps a watchful eye over his little 'brother'.

Cats Oskar and Klaus with toys Blind cat Oskar Mick and Bethany were concerned that Oskar's blindness might lead him into trouble, get him hurt bumping into things and make him unable to find his litter box. However, they needn't have worried; Oskar's other senses are acute and have compensated well for his missing eyesight. The adaptable feline, now growing into a fine cat, has absolutely no difficulty dashing around the house, chasing Klaus, or galloping through the long hallway outside their apartment under close supervision. Oskar also has an ample supply of bell-filled toys with which he and Klaus enjoy playing.

In the clip Oskar the Blind Cat & His Best Friend Klaus the cats stand at the front door and demand to go outside and take a walk — in this case along the halls of their huge apartment complex, where they thoroughly enjoy exploring. The one that really captured people's hearts is Oskar's First Toys, made the day after his adoption and showing him having a whale of a time chasing balls with little bells inside. In November 2012 it was the winner of the overall Grand Prize for the best cat video of 2012 at 'The Friskies' awards, and by the end of December it had received nearly 4.5 million hits. There's another short clip of Oskar opening a closed door, and many more can be seen from Mick and Bethany's YouTube channel.

Oskar has a much visited Facebook page with plenty of pictures. On there I read that the family has now moved to Seattle, in Washington State.

Cat pals Klaus and Oskar

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Our featured feline at the head of the page: your companion through Feline Fragments is Maggie. She came as a kitten from Powys Cat Rescue. One of their volunteers had seen her wandering around, apparently uncared for, and thought her rather young to be just left to roam. The person 'responsible' for her said she 'didn't care', and so the youngster was taken in for rehoming. Only about 4 months old when I brought her home in 2003, she was a self-assured soul, probably because of her early experience, and was soon climbing all the available trees in the garden. She was a determined hunter in her earlier days, and was usually outside, but now prefers snoozing unless the weather is good. She has superb whiskers — and as the photo shows, loves getting into things! (see it here without the puzzle effect)

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