Last winter two blind kittens were rescued from a builders yard in Peterlee and are now safe in the arms of a loving family.
Ginger kitten Gabriel - named after the Christmas angel - was 14-weeks-old when he was found straying in Peterlee, and rescued by the RSPCA just days before Christmas.
Inspector Krissy Raine, who rescued him, said: “ After telling one of my colleagues about his story we realised she’d rescued another little kitten from the same area a few weeks before and that they were brothers.
“It was so wonderful to reunite them; it was a Christmas miracle. They instantly recognised each other and it was really heartwarming to know that they had each other again.”
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Gabriel underwent surgery to stitch his eyes shut to prevent any possible future infections.
The other kitten, Arthur was rescued from the same site six weeks prior and required surgery to remove one of his eyes. During surgery vets discovered his other eye was also damaged and made the decision to remove it.
Staff at the RSPCA Cat Hub* - which cared for the kittens - were concerned about how hard it might be to find a home for a pair of blind kittens together - but when experienced cat owner Helen Marritt (44) from County Durham and her family came forward, it was a match made in heaven.
Helen, Andy and 16-year-old daughter Willow fell in love with adopting special needs cats after taking on one-eyed Greebo, who had a broken leg.
Helen said: “As soon as we saw Arthur and Gabriel we just knew that they were the right cats for us. I read up everything I could find about looking after blind cats and fell in love with them even more! They've settled in so well and, after a little bit of confusion to start, all of the cats are bumbling along really well with each other now.”
“Arthur enjoys 'helping' Andy work from home by climbing up on his shoulders and keeping him company. Gabriel is less keen on human company, but loves all our other cats and follows them around, which is really sweet.”
The family are looking forward to their first Christmas with eight cats and will be showering their new additions - Arthur and Gabriel - with lots of affection and fuss. Helen and Andy describe Arthur and Gabriel as their “Christmas miracles” and couldn’t imagine life without them both.
“Christmas with all eight cats will be hilariously chaotic; we’re already making bets on how long the Christmas tree will stay up, especially as Arthur and Gabriel are so curious and love to climb! They both love playing in boxes and chasing scrunched up balls of paper so Christmas Day will be heaven for them!
To Join the Christmas Rescue and help our rescuers be there for the animals in need this winter, please visit www.rspca.org.uk/rescuexmas.