Donny is a natural do-gooder.
The 2-year-old rescue cat was born without eyes and with the neurological condition Cerebellar Hyperplasia, which causes him to wobble and fall over when he walks.
These differences have never held Donny back. In fact, he is “the most charming cat in the world,” according to his rescuers at North Shore Animal League America (NSALA).
Susan Smith thought so, too. When she saw a picture of Donny, Smith instantly knew she needed to meet this sweet feline, then just 3 months old.
“Since I already had three blind cats I know it’s not an easy task to find a home for a special needs animal and this poor guy was born with a double whammy so my husband and I went to meet him,” Smith tells PEOPLE. “He was the happiest, go-lucky guy, running, bumping into things and yes, falling down. I asked my husband, ‘Do you think we should adopt him?’ and his answer was, ‘How can we not?’ ”
Smith and her husband brought Donny home to their three other blind cats — Ray, Cookie and Blossom — and their blind dog, Sabrina, in Hicksville, New York. The newcomer fit in fast, quickly learning his way around the house and becoming a social star on the Instagram account @Blossom_and_her_family, which Smith created for her furry friends.
It didn’t take long for Smith to see why Donny’s rescuers call him charming. This feline is fearless, curious, kind and emphatic. Smith wanted to share her cat’s gifts with the world, so Donny became a certified therapy cat, joining NSALA’s Outreach Program. Through this program, Donny makes regular visits to hospitals, nursing homes and Alzheimer’s facilities where he contentedly sits in the laps of residents and patients and receives countless pats.
“It’s amazing how when he’s at home he’s a ball of energy, antagonizing his brother and sisters, but when he’s ‘working’ he will sit on a patient’s lap for as long as they want never trying to jump down, and then being passed to the next patient’s lap,” Smith says of Donny’s demeanor. “Unlike most cats Donny is very comfortable and at ease wherever he is.”
When Smith’s 88-year-old mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and moved into a hospital for a more than a month to receive radiation treatments, Donny already had all the credentials and skills he needed to soothe her.
Smith brought Donny, who was already a beloved grandcat, to regularly visit his grandma in the hospital.
“I immediately started bringing Donny there to cheer her up and it worked. He would lay on her for hours while she petted him, often both falling asleep,” Smith recalls.
Perhaps there was something healing in all those purrs, because after 17 radiation treatments and weeks the hospital, Smith’s mother got the good news that she is cancer-free.
Donny is back to visiting his grandma at her home, where he navigates the rooms like he lives there.
When Donny isn’t out in the world spreading smiles, he is at home sharing the love with his family, which now includes two younger feline brothers (Ozzy and Weeble) who also have Cerebellar Hyperplasia.