Ceren Kiran Tatli and her husband are huge animal lovers, and are constantly feeding and caring for all the stray cats in their neighborhood in Turkey. They do their best to find new homes for as many cats as they can, and are always on the lookout for new cats who may need help. In early 2015, the couple was walking around their neighborhood on one of their regular rounds when they spotted a cat they’d never seen before — and quickly realized the poor street cat was both deaf and blind.
“We saw him walking in the snow, looking for food and running away awkwardly from other cats and cars,” Tatli told The Dodo. “We called out to him, [tried] to get near him but, as he is a super talented escape artist, we couldn’t.”
After that initial sighting, Tatli kept searching for the cat, desperately wanting to help him. She found him again a few times and even managed to get close to him, but he always escaped, too scared to realize that she was trying to help him. Eventually, he stopped coming around, and Tatli always wondered what happened to him. A few months later, he reappeared, and unfortunately, his condition had gotten so much worse.
“In April 2015, we saw him again; this time his health got worse and [he] had a broken leg and did not have energy to struggle anymore,” Tatli said. “I still have no idea how he survived, found food and water [and] avoided cars on that busy neighborhood.”
Once they finally had him safely in their care, the couple gave the cat a nice meal and then rushed him to the vet. They decided to name him Yoda, and hoped with all their might that the vet would be able to help him. Several vet visits later, after having one eye removed, Yoda was finally on the road to recovery physically — but emotionally, his journey took a little longer.
Although Yoda trusted his new family from the very beginning, he was still incredibly nervous in his new home, and navigated his surroundings with extreme caution. After living on the streets and constantly having to keep his guard up, it took him a while to get used to the fact that in his new home, no one would ever hurt him.
“At first he used to walk very slowly around the house, afraid of any other cats [who] may attack him out of nowhere,” Tatli said. “Our other cats were afraid of him too; they couldn’t understand why he didn’t change his direction whenever they encountered him, for example. They must have thought he was some kind of alien, not a cat.”
Eventually, one of the couple’s cats, Obi, warmed up to Yoda and realized that he actually wasn’t that scary — he just couldn’t see or hear. As soon as Yoda had a friend on his side, he began to relax, and after a year of being in his new home, his confidence finally began to shine through.
Now, Yoda is the boss of his family and loves running around the house with all the joy in the world. He and Obi are constantly playing together, and Obi knows that all he has to do is tap Yoda with his paw to let him know that it’s time to play. Tatli also uses touch to let Yoda know when she’s near him, and so Yoda in turn has started tapping his mom with his paw whenever he wants something. He’s proving every day that being blind and deaf isn’t enough to slow him down.
“Yoda has a very independent and affectionate personality,” Tatli said. “He doesn’t need any help with anything. I’m sure he doesn’t think he is any different than the other cats. He is very confident. He seems to believe he’s not missing anything at all, he is able to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He makes sure we understand that too.”
Yoda was barely surviving when he lived on the streets, but now he’s happy and safe, roaming around his house without fear the way he was always meant to.
“The more we get to know him, the more we fall in love with his vivacious, adventurous, independent spirit,” Tatli said. “He made us forget about his disabilities and focus on the bright side. We learned from him how beautifully simple life can be.”