One day, one ordinary person and his family found it in their hearts to take in a tiny, abandoned kitten who had lost her sight due to a bad case of conjunctivitis. They already had two dogs under their roof, which would make it difficult to keep a cat. Nevertheless, the father devoted himself to her care as she hovered between life and death, praying for the kitten’s full recovery. He didn’t intend to give the kitten a name at first, as he was worried about becoming too attached, and just called her “cat” (neko in Japanese) but somehow everyone started calling her Niko, which means something like “happy smile”.
“She brought smiles to the faces of everyone who met her.”
When Niko was first rescued, she was unable to see. Her eyes swollen shut, and she was wild with pain and confusion. But after a warm bath, she cuddled up to her new friend, who gently cleaned her eyes with gauze pads soaked in water. He offered her milk and food, but she showed no interest whatsoever. And because she couldn’t see, she just sat there, unable to move.
Gradually, over some days her eyes began to open and she slowly regained her appetite. She started to act more like a playful kitten, but her eyes were still raw and sore.
Because of their two dogs, sadly it wasn’t possible for Niko to stay with her new family long-term. The owner had to find a new home for her, but he was worried that no one would want to take in a sick kitten with such bad eyes.
Through his loving care, and Niko’s fighting spirit, slowly but surely the cat regained her sight and health. In just two weeks, she had become a beautiful, happy kitten that any parent would be proud to show off.
Serendipitously, just as he was thinking of placing ads to find Niko a home, an old school friend got in touch. This friend and his wife had lost their second cat the previous year, and they and their 12-year-old American shorthair were lonely. This seemed like the perfect home for Niko. Not only were they cat lovers, but also trusted friends. One month later, Niko went to her new home in Kamakura, a coastal town just south of Tokyo.
After circling each other warily at first, Niko and her adopted older sister got to know each other, and some of Niko’s natural optimism rubbed off. More than one year later, the two friends are living together happily.
The message Niko’s rescuer would like to stress is the importance of spaying or neutering cats and dogs, to save lives and prevent the suffering of unwanted, neglected and abandoned animals.
Check out the following video, which shows one month of heart-warming kitten recovery, condensed into 17 minutes with English subtitles (hard to read at times!).
And here we see Niko One and her big sister a year on. Looks like they’re learnt to play together pretty nicely!