Oskar the blind kitten wins $15,000 grand prize in Friskies contest

Oskar the blind kitten wins $15,000 grand prize in Friskies contest

Credit: Mick & Bethany

Oskar the blind kitten wins $15,000 grand prize in Friskies contest


by SUSAN WYATT / The Pet Dish


Posted on November 15, 2012 at 10:43 AM

One of the Internet super cats is moving to Seattle! Oskar the blind cat, along with buddy Klaus, are moving from Omaha, Nebraska to the Northwest (along with mom and dad, Mick and Bethany).

Oskar became an internet sensation last fall when Mick and Bethany posted a video of the tiny kitten battling a hair dryer and another video of him playing with his first toy – a jingly ball.

The hair dryer video appeared on CNN, Ellen, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and numerous other shows.

On Wednesday, Oskar's toy video won the $15,000 grand prize in the Friskies Video Contest. More than 1,400 videos from all 50 states were submitted for the contest, and Friskies donated 250,000 cans of cat food to 25 shelters across the country.

Mick says they were thrilled that Oskar's video won. He says while in Los Angeles they met Henri, another Seattle super cat.

Mick and Bethany found Oskar on a small farm outside Glenwood, Iowa when they were out shopping for vintage musical instruments.

Mick says the farmer’s son sold him an old autoharp, and then asked Mick if he wanted a kitten to go with it.  Baby Oskar - only 8 weeks old at the time - was napping underneath a tractor.

“We noticed right away that he was blind,” says Mick. “But he was very tame and sweet even then. He lived outdoors with his momma - the other kittens from the litter were basically gone and he was the last one. Some of the kittens were given away, some may have been killed or lost, but he was content on his small patch of grass.”

Though they didn’t really want another cat because they already had Klaus, they just couldn’t leave little Oskar there at the farm where there were so many dangers.
“He needed a safe home – and although we were not sure what to expect – he came home with us that day,” says Mick.

A visit to the vet determined that Oskar was normal, although he was born with severe microphthalmia - his eyes never formed, and his eyelids are almost fully fused together.

“It appears as though he’s squinting most of the time – however, as you spend time around him you realize that he can be very expressive with the muscles around his eyes and face,” says Mick. “You can tell when he would be staring at you with big kitty eyes, or when he would be squinting during intense play.”

“His radar ears and amazing memory help him find everything.  He rarely bumps into anything now, and he has never once made a mess due to not finding his litter box. Basically, he never ceases to amaze us with his playfulness, amazing senses, and his thirst for adventures."

Because of Oskar’s popularity, Mick and Bethany started a Facebook page to share pictures of Oskar and Klaus, who has become a celebrity cat in his own right, and to share posts about animals and shelters in need of help.

Oskar’s fans, who are found in every part of the world, have collectively raised tens of thousands of dollars to assist animals in need. 

“We helped to find homes for special needs animals in small town shelters that simply do not have the exposure or resources needed to do so on their own,” says Mick.

“The greatest gift to us is hearing from people who simply never considered adopting a blind or disabled animal before, but they did so after watching Oskar lead a normal and happy life. We really believe that his videos and photos have spared quite a few animals from euthanasia,” he says.

Klaus, the entrepreneur, has a line of ties and other products that are available online The high quality pet-safe ties attach to a neck piece and are made by hand in a variety of styles.

“No corporate, mass-produced junk here…everything is made with organic catnip and quality non-toxic fabrics,” Mick says.

A portion of the proceeds from the ties go to animal rescue organizations, including Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary.

“We are truly blessed to be in a position that lets us help other animals in need from the comfort of our home, and we are also thrilled to share fun video and photos of Oskar and Klaus every day,” Mick says.

Mick says they have a plan in place for the move from Omaha to Seattle.

“Once we arrive in the new place, it will only be a matter of weeks (if not days) until Oskar has the place mastered,” he says.”We have rearranged rooms in our current place and he learned the new layout in a day or two.”

Mick says he and Bethany love the Pacific Northwest and plan to buy a house in Seattle next year and call it their permanent home.