the blind kitten,
originally from Omaha,
then at Seattle
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.
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'.
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.
At the end of 2012, the family moved to Seattle, in Washington State.
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. One that really captured people's hearts was Oskar's First Toys, made the day after his adoption in 2011, and showing him having a whale of a time chasing balls with little bells inside. In 2012 it was the winner of the overall Grand Prize for the best cat video of 2012 at 'The Friskies' awards, and by 2018 it had received 7 million hits. Another early favourite was Oskar's charming 'battle' with a hairdryer. Many more clips are available from Mick and Bethany's YouTube channel.
Oskar and Klaus have a much visited Facebook page with plenty of pictures, and are also at Instagram and Twitter.
Sadly Oskar died in February 2018 of an apparent heart attack, at the age of just six years old, surrounded by his human and feline family in his Seattle apartment. He hadn't shown any previous signs of illness, but it turned out he had an undiagnosed heart defect. He had a huge following on social media, and his sudden death was a big shock. There is a lovely tribute to him, one of many, at Cat Wisdom 101.
Later in the year Mick and Bethany took on another blind kitten, named Juno (left), who had been found wandering the streets in Merced, California, at only a few weeks old. She's a very pretty grey tabby; see more pictures on the Klaus/Oskar Facebook page noted above, or she's also at Instagram. Klaus, or 'The Klaus' as he's known, has been a gentleman and has befriended her as he did Oskar. He himself is still going strong and was probably 17 or 18 years old in 2018.