Mikey: a beautiful soul who chose to be my friend when I really needed one

“A Friendship is Born” by Jennifer Moore

As I get older, I realize how many of the little things I tend to forget, sometimes big things too. Though, when I look back to 11 years ago, July 1, 2003 to be exact, I remember that day with clarity. It was the day that my newborn son was born still…and it is also the day that I discovered the greatest friendship of my life.

Mikey a deaf white cat of real beauty

MIkey. Photo copyright Jennifer Moore

Mikey was just a kitten, 4 months old, I rescued his mother only weeks before he and his litter mates were born in my bed, yes, in my bed. The litter included 3 white kittens and 1 black and white kitten. Shortly after the kittens were born, I found out that I was two months pregnant with my second child. My oldest daughter was living with her father so I was excited at the thought of little feet once again running around the house. I think with all of the excitement of a new baby coming, I didn’t get as caught up in the kittens as I would of if I hadn’t been pregnant. I totally loved them and cared for them but hadn’t formed any sort of bond with any of them at that point.

By the time the kittens had reached about 2 months of age, I noticed something odd about one of the little white boys. He didn’t seem to respond as the others did and he slept a whole lot more than the other kittens. I had Mama cat set up in her own room with her kittens so she would have privacy and I could keep the kittens some what contained for the time being. When I began to supplement their mother’s milk with kitten formula, the kittens would charge me as soon as they heard the door opening except for one little kitten, he would just be sleeping away. I would walk over to him and touch him and it would startle him so he would let out the loudest little meow for a kitten. He always drank his milk but I was concerned, I thought he was sick at first but it wasn’t long before I realize that he couldn’t hear. I preformed a few home made hearing tests at home to come to this conclusion. He was definitely deaf.

By three months of age this little kitty guy had taken over the house, he was so full of life and mischief. He terrorized his brother and sisters, they would let out screeches that he just did not hear when he attacked them, life was interesting. I was then 5 months along in my pregnancy and the thoughts of how I would care for this deaf cat in the future was weighing on me heavily.

– How would I do this with a new baby?
– How would he be with a new baby?

So far, seeing how he played with his siblings was not so encouraging. I thought about finding him another home which is not my style at all but I felt pressured with a new baby coming and my concerns on how I could manage this were very real. I decided to wait and see how things would go. I had no idea of the journey I was about to set out on…no idea at all.

deaf white cat MIkey

Mikey. Photo copyright Jennifer Moore

By the time I was in my sixth month pregnancy, I was finally feeling pregnant, my ultrasound 2 weeks prior showed that I was carrying a healthy little boy, it also showed that I had a Subchorionic hemorrhage. (Bleeding between the amniotic sac and the placenta). My doctor assured me everything was fine and I should carry on as usual and so that is what I did but on June 30, 2003, I woke up feeling anything but usual. My tummy kept tightening and when I asked the doctor about this at my previous appointment he said it was just Braxton hicks, false contractions that prepare for the baby. I tried to keep that in mind that morning but I didn’t feel right but I felt like a pest to keep asking my doctor so I waited it out, knowing it would pass.

By that evening, I had noticed that the baby was moving around a lot more than usual and by 10 pm I felt like I was in labor. After arriving at the hospital and having some tests, I was told that I would be delivering my son and that he would not survive.

I listened to his heartbeat all night long on the monitor and by day light the doctors and nurses were telling me to push as I refused. I knew he could not survive outside of me but nature took over and my son was born, he never took a breath.

Leaving the hospital without a baby in my arms was one of the most disturbing experiences in my life. I am thankful that I was allowed time with my son before leaving that day, it helped but my heart was broken right in two, I just wanted to go home. When I walked in the house, I hadn’t thought about all of his things that were already set up in his bedroom, I immediately went to his room, I needed to be near him and these were his things. The door to his room had always been closed but on that day it was open a little. When I walked into the room, the first thing I saw was my sons bassinet and the tears just fell, as I walked closer to the little baby bed I saw this little white kitten curled up in a little ball fast asleep in the bassinet. There were no other cats in his room, just this one.

I lifted him out of the bassinet to carry him out of the baby’s room and noticed that it felt good to hold him in my arms, he was warm and didn’t resist being held at all. I carried him to my room as I was exhausted. I put him on my bed and then I put myself there as well, I grabbed a pillow and cried like I had never cried before, this cry came from a place within me that I never knew existed because I had never lost a child before and this cry is especially made for this loss. I felt so lonely in that moment, so incredibly lonely, my entire body ached for that lost little boy.

I woke up a couple of hours later to something scratchy on my face, it took a moment to realize that this little kitten I earlier brought into my room was now licking my face, he was licking dried tears I thought, and then wet ones as I began to cry again, he never left me, when he was done cleaning me up, he curled up in my arms and that is where he stayed until I woke up again. This time when I woke up I found myself looking for him to be there and he was right there…I was comforted. We had a long night that night, but I wasn’t alone and my arms they were not empty.

I don’t remember seeing any of my other cats during this time…just this one. By morning I managed to get to the bathroom and before I could shut the door he wormed his way in. He has followed me everyday since.

Beautiful deaf white cat

Photo copyright Jennifer Moore

I began calling this little kitten of mine “My Kitty”, I lacked anything creative at the time. But I did realize that if I said “My Kitty” fast enough…it sounded a lot like “Mikey” and so he had a name and I had just made a friend that would become my Rock through the toughest of times and a light for me to hold as I walked through the darkest hours of my life.

The days and weeks and even months ahead were difficult for me to deal with, I had never given a moments thought about what would happen if I lost my child, no one ever thinks this will happen so when it does you are completely unprepared. I found myself picking out a casket instead of baby clothes, purchasing a burial plot instead swings or strollers and planning a funeral for child that nobody even had a chance to meet except for a select few.

During this time, while I was grieving, the only thing that seemed to bring a smile upon my face was Mikey. For a kitten, he was so aware of how I felt; it was as if he were looking after me when it was I who should have been looking after him. Depression can set in pretty rapidly after going through something like this but it didn’t happen that way because after a few weeks of being cared for by this amazing little guy, I knew I would need to begin figuring out how I would care for him and his needs as a deaf kitten. I spent countless hours researching his deafness as he sat on top of my monitor or slept on my printer, he never left my side for long.

It wasn’t too long thereafter that I began to see the sun shining again, I was stepping slowly out of the darkness and with each step I took, Mikey stepped with me.

I decided it was time for a change when Mikey was a year old and we moved to the mountains where we live now. We have 22 acres but he is an indoor kitty…we do have a large home so he has plenty of room. We built him an outside enclosure with a tunnel that runs from the house to an open area where he can sit on his log and bask in the sun. Also last year I started taking him out on a harness and he is doing well with it, as long as we are together he does well with anything, I seem to do well this way also.Some people have questioned my devotion to Mikey and have viewed him as spoiled and all I can do is smile because he is absolutely spoiled…as he should be.

When I look at him, I don’t see a pet, I barely see a cat or an animal. What I do see is this beautiful soul who chose to be my friend when I really needed one. Most kittens just play and are busy just being kittens but I’m convinced that Mikey’s mission was so much more than this, I know we were always meant to be friends.

Today he is 11 years old, he has become a part of who I am. Our lives now are so full of joy and laughter.

On June 29th 2005, almost two years to the day after I lost my son…Miss Haley was born…healthy. Haley calls Mikey her older brother… and he is.

As Mikey approaches his senior years, I know I will someday have to face a day when he will no longer be next to me, at least not in a bodily sense. I will never be sorry and for Mikey, I will be strong no matter what because he deserves me to be. I have learned so much from our friendship and I am a better person today because of him.

I became a photographer because of Mikey’s beautiful face, captivated by his loving heart that always seems to show up in every image I take of him. He seems to reach even those who only know him in pictures and he has become my little ‘Rock Star’ through my lens.

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Mikey: a beautiful soul who chose to be my friend when I really needed one — 34 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story with us Jennifer – it reminds me of me and my cat Red who is no longer around. Cats make humans better. Sometimes humans make cats better but that is less reliable.

    I’m so sorry for your loss – I can’t begin to imagine what that was like. Mikey is your boy, your little guardian, there for you. You can’t put a price on it – and once you know a cat’s love and friendship you probably can’t then live without it.

    Although my cat stories are different – they are the same in that they are similarly about perfect friendships, unconditional love – and in my case, some cat loss. So glad things are wonderful and happy for you and Mikey now 🙂

    • PS: Mikey is gorgeous, beautiful. His eyes are amazing. Both green and blue. I’m sure after seeing these – that your photography must be great. It’s not uncommon for white haired blue eyed cats to be deaf. Also they are suceptible to skin cancer – I have no doubt you are fully aware of all this – I guess as long as he isn’t sunbathing to the extreme then he will be fine – what with being alot indoors as well.

      Lucky you living in the mountains with all that land. I understand for his safety he must stay inside. Being deaf he is vulnerable to coyotes and bears and and….

  2. Thank you Jennifer. Thank you for allowing me to publish your story on our site. It is nice to be able to publish a cat story that is warm and positive, which takes a positive out of what could be a negative. In addition Mikey is a stunning cat, photographed beautifully. He truly is a magnificent domestic cat – captivating. What makes him even more beautiful is that he has a disability. It somehow heightens his beauty.

    I’m sorry for your loss and I’m thrilled for your gain in being with a wonderful companion like Mikey.

    • Michael, thank you so much. I feel very fortunate despite the losses, I know it is a journey and it’s not always easy but I also know that as long as our hearts remain willing to love…..we will find love. Mikey is my best friend, loving him has been the highlight of my life and having him love me has made me stronger. Thanks again, your website is just fabulous.

      • Hi Jennifer. Just a quick note to say that the reason why your comments (which are very welcome) were moderated is because first time comments are always moderated, just in case, and thereafter the person making the comments can make them freely and they will be published immediately.

        Once again, thank you so much for letting me publish your story on this website. It is a great story and I love, really love Mikey.

  3. What a lovely story Jennifer, very sad in parts, thank you for sharing it with us. I can’t begin to imagine having a still born baby, it must be heartbreaking.
    Mikey is absolutely beautiful and it’s wonderful that he was there for you when you needed him and he needed you.
    I hope you have him around for many more years to come.

    • Thank you Ruth. Losing my son was the most difficult experience I have ever faced but at the same time it has been a life changer in the most positive of ways. I learned so much about love because of him. I feel as if he came with a message and that message was received, I am a different person today than I was then, I am a better person. As heart breaking as it was….I would do it all over again just to be able to hold him again like I did on that day, he was perfect and as I held him all I could feel was love.

  4. What a beautiful story, and well told. Mikey is one of those extraordiniary cats. His hearing loss is only about sound. He seems to be completely tuned in to emotions, and his environment. I imagine he could feel the vibration of Haley crying as a baby. But oh my, he is gorgeous. Best wishes for a long life for Mikey.

    • Thank you so much. Yes, Mikey does feel vibrations. He and I do this cuddle thing at night, since he was a baby. I put my hand on his chest and I pull him next to me and he loves this but he doesn’t purr until he feels the vibration of my voice telling him how much I love him. As soon as I start speaking, his little motor turns on instantly. It’s very sweet. Oh and I am totally convinced that he hears me, he just listens with his heart.

      • What a beautiful ritual. With cats, you can’t fake affection. It has to be real from the heart. They can feel the love, or not.

  5. One of the most touching stories I’ve read, Jennifer.
    Thank you for that and thank you for letting Mikey embed himself so into your heart to help you heal. A lot of people in similar circumstances would never have even see his potential to comfort.

  6. just read your amazing story made me cry. Made me think of my own experience when i had to say goodbye to my own baby 5 years ago. Its just lovely how cats esp ones as special as mikey always know and are there for you. i rember my own cassy that has since passed. How she reacted. Its great that your own intuition knew something was wrong and worked out what to do. Just love the look of white cats they are truely beautiful. sorry for your loss its hard to move on but just wonderful mikey was there for you great story and pictures

    • Kylee, thank you. I am really sorry for your loss as well. I never thought in a million years that a little deaf kitten could have so much strength….he really held me up. As for the white cats, I just love them too. I have Mikey’s Sister Sissy also and she is pure white but she can hear. Before I had them spayed and neutered Sissy got pregnant and had one litter (I know that was bad) They have a daughter named Daisy which I have also and she is pure white with two different colored eyes, she is completely deaf also. I adore them all, such great cats. Thanks again.

      • I did not realise or it was not completely apparent to me before that he is odd-eyed. Another great photograph. He has that knowing look as if he totally comprehends the human race and is rather mystified by it.

        Update: My mistake, sorry this is your picture of Daisy. She has that all-knowing look as well. And she has beautiful odd-eyes.

      • aww how beautiful i remember one of my cats i had when i was younger she choose to have her babies in my room under the bed, even though had her in a box she still moved herself to be under my bed was so amazed at how loyalty she was too me back then. Its great i think you kept her other cats really nice.

        • Kylee, I felt so bad about Sissy getting pregnant, I knew better, especially with this deaf gene in their bloodline. It was totally irresponsible so when the babies were born, I decided that I would keep them all if it came down to that. I was fortunate to have found such incredible homes for them. I kept Daisy because I wanted to make sure her world would be safe. Having deaf cats is a bigger job than one may think. I am absolutely vigilant about doors staying closed and windows having screens. They just have no real chance of surviving if they slip outside. Having kids and other people going in and out all day long keeps me on my toes. Daisy doesn’t show much interest in the outdoors but Mikey is so curious and adventurous, I really have to pay attention. So far so good, he is 11 years old and Daisy is 9 years old. They have both slipped out on occasion but I was right on their heels. 🙂

          • Jennifer, would you like to write a short article about how a person looks after a deaf cat? It is an interesting subject: how a person modifies cat caretaking to look after cat that is deaf? There’s quite a lot of discussion on the Internet about how to care for a blind but less information about caring for a cat who is deaf.

            If you would like to, all you have to do is write another comment in response to this one if you like which is a bit longer than normal and then I will convert that into an article and add a photograph. It’s a straightforward as that and I’m always looking for new thoughts, new ideas and new writers.

            • Living with a deaf cat is a very different experience than living with cats who can hear.
              The first thing you learn is that you obviously cannot call them by their name and expect a response. I never realized just how much I actually communicated with my ‘hearing’ cats by talking to them until Mikey came along.
              By nature , cats like to sleep in hiding places which is fine but when you are doing a ‘deaf cat head count’ several times a day,or when they slip out the door into the woods, life can get interesting to say the least.
              Cats who are deaf are more sensitive to vibrations, so I use this to my advantage when I am searching the house for Mikey, I learned that if I stomp my feet on the floor, he comes out from hiding within a minute or two. He comes out every single time so that is how I call him.
              If Mikey slips outside the stomping method is futile but with his white fur finding him during the day is not as much of a challenge as trying to find him at night if he gets out. I learned that a flash light being turned on and off will guide him back to me most of the time.
              Most of the time was not good enough odds for me so I taught my Standard Poodle ‘Jessie’ to find Mikey and she does the best job ever. All I do is let her out and tell her to “find the kitty” and she does every time.
              The best way to avoid all of this is to make sure every window has a secure screen and that everyone is aware of the importance of shutting doors. We actually attached a bungee cord to all the doors that lead outside, this way they automatically shut when you let go of the handle. He rarely gets out anymore.
              I have heard that some people put bells on a deaf cats collar to make them easier to locate but this is not an option for Mikey because living in the mountains means that wild animals could locate him as well and he would be unaware of their presence.
              So getting outside is the biggest danger but being in danger is not the only time you need to communicate with a deaf cat.
              I figured out early on that Mikey is not disabled. Mikey is very capable and very bright, so I taught him sign language, he knows…
              Come here
              No
              Get down
              bye bye
              Time to Eat (he knows this one best)
              Lets go outside
              It’s Mommy Mikey Lovey time 🙂 ( my favorite)
              These are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head, there are more because I talk to Mikey all day long. It doesn’t have to be the traditional sign language either, it’s just about using the same signal every single time for each thing you ask of him. He caught on quick.
              The one thing that I notice the most with Mikey that differs in the hearing cats…is how often he is looking at me .
              This is important and it’s learned because he loves to communicate with me and he waits for me to tell him things. 🙂 He pays attention because if there is something going on he wants to know about it.
              The up side to living with a deaf cat is a big one….they are not skittish at all and he will cuddle bug with me all night long because he doesn’t get woke up as easily as most cats. I love this part the most. I am careful though in how I wake him up if he is asleep because he can’t hear me coming and will wake up with the loudest meow you could ever hear when startled awake. So I usually just wave my hand back and forth as I approach him so he can feel the shift in the air, it’s subtle enough to not startle him or me.
              I live with two deaf cats and I have applied everything I have learned with Mikey when raising Daisy as well and it works with her too.
              It takes a commitment to raise any cat but especially a deaf one. I have other cats in the household and Mikey is clearly the king of them all, mostly because when they play, he doesn’t hear them cry if he hurts them. The hearing cats usually let go when they hear the other let out a screech. Mikey doesn’t hear it so he just keeps right along playing and so the others think he is mean, I can tell by how they walk around him. 🙂 I am usually close by though and referee is just one of my titles.
              If one is willing to commit to the care it takes in raising a deaf cat, I believe the relationship that can be established with the cat is like no other. It has been an amazing experience.

  7. The photograph heading this article is probably the most beautiful cat that I’ve seen and when you look at the photograph you almost see something more than a cat and I’m not sure what it is.

    • Michael, that is such a nice thing for you to say and it means a great deal coming from you. I know you have seen so many cats…you reinforce my feelings about Mikey, I see that ‘something more’ also when I look at his face. He has an almost human look about him at times.

  8. What a wonderful story, you have a gift for writing as well as photography Jennifer. I am so sorry for the death of your baby son, how very sad that he never got the chance to live his life, like most people who have never experienced such a dreadful loss I can’t imagine what you must have gone through, I’m happy for you that you now have a daughter and you have Mikey who sound as though he was sent to be your little rock and to help you get through such a dark time. Cats are wonderful little soul mates, they instinctively know when you need care and they gently help you through. I hope you have many years together with Mikey yet.

    • Barbara, Thank you. Losing my soon was difficult to say the least but now when I look back on it all, I don’t feel that gut wrenching pain any longer. Somewhere along the line it became the way that things were meant to be. It will always be sad that he never had a chance in this life to live his own life but he was here and he left his mark. The message he came with I will carry with me always and I know I will see him again one day. When I picture his face in my mind now, I always smile.

  9. Yes it seems that Mikey was meant to be there for you in that moment. Its no easy saying goodbyes and even having to make such a hard decision is hard in its self. Its so amazing how cats often come to us and how they become more for us than we ever realize. Its great the work that you have done with your deaf cats. Love your writing and your photography is amazing. Its great that you have come to this amazing cat site with your knowledge

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