When Donny was a young cat, he was discovered lost in a parking lot, unwell and in need of assistance. He was saved by North Shore Animal League America in New York, and there, staff members toiled arduously to restore him to health. The rescuers decided to have Donny’s eyes removed because they were undeveloped and useless to him.
Not long after his surgery, it was discovered that Donny also suffers from cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurological condition which causes him severe balance issues. The blind, wobbly cat was put into a foster home with Beth Stern, an avid fosterer, to wait for his forever family to find him. While it can sometimes be harder to find homes for special needs animals, it didn’t take long for the perfect person to stumble across Donny.
In March 2016, Susan Smith was browsing Instagram when she came upon a post about Donny and fell in love at first sight. She and her husband made the decision to meet him even though they weren’t planning to adopt another cat; as soon as they did, they knew he was going home with them.
“He was wobbling and bumping into things but just kept running around,” Smith told The Dodo. “He would fall down but get right back up with the most incredible spirit I’d ever seen. Life had thrown him a double whammy but he was the happiest guy we’d ever met. That was a Friday night and I picked him up on Sunday morning.”
From the minute Donny arrived at his new home, his mom could tell there was something special about him. Right from the very beginning, he’s been the most loving, gentle cat, and always shocks his family with how laid-back and happy he is.
Despite everything he’s been through, he seems to have no idea he’s any different, and powers through each challenge life throws at him as if he never noticed it was a challenge to begin with.
He acts like everyone else since he is unaware of his differences, according to Smith, including climbing to the top of the cat tree and then tumbling off when he wants to descend. My floor is covered with cushions and mats because of this. He is in the front window when he hears me get home from work, descends to the ground, and waits at the front door.
Donny’s mum thought of signing him up as a therapy cat after learning how laid-back he is and how everyone who meets him remarks on it. She believed the post would be a good fit for him since she knew he had the necessary temperament to manage people, but she never could have anticipated how much.
Donny mostly visits elderly patients who have Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and may start working in libraries and schools soon, too. His main job as a therapy cat is to bond with patients by sitting in their laps and bringing them some much-needed comfort, and he truly seems to adore his very important job.
“As soon as we get there he is an entirely different cat,” Smith said. “I swear somehow he knows he has an important job to do. If we were at home he would never sit on someone’s lap for that length of time.”
Smith’s mother, Donny’s grandmother, was diagnosed with lung cancer and began spending a lot of time in the hospital. Smith quickly recognized the ideal person to lift her spirits. It was amazing how much the gentle, blind cat appeared to aid her when she began taking Donny to the hospital frequently to visit his grandmother.
Grandma Donny’s cancer was originally highly aggressive, but amazingly, the tumor shrank far more quickly than the family anticipated, and she is now cancer-free. Mom believes that Donny’s ability to lift his grandma’s spirits when she was in the hospital and recuperating at home had a significant impact on her general health.
They have a strong bond with one another, according to Smith. Nothing gave her greater pleasure than seeing him go around her home without running into anything.
Donny’s sunny outlook inspires people every day, even though he has no idea that his life has been a little more difficult than the lives of most cats. He enjoys encouraging others by demonstrating that everything is possible, and he will keep supporting those around him by serving as the finest therapy cat in the world.