MARTINEZ -- Linda Cremeans stood in the lobby at Contra Costa Animal Services tightly holding her Siamese cat, John Paul.
Although she said it was the last thing she'd do, she felt she didn't have a choice. A dire financial situation forced Cremeans out of her home and into a place that doesn't allow pets. She decided to surrender her cat to the shelter. But she was scared.
"Due to his age and blindness, they probably wouldn't be able to find him a home," said Cremeans, an Antioch resident.
She said she was surprised that a rescue group wouldn't take the cat and that her vet refused to euthanize John Paul.
"The vet wasn't comfortable putting him down," Cremeans said. "She suggested I take him to the Martinez shelter where she said that at least he would have a better chance."
At the shelter, Cremeans feared for the fate of her beloved 10-year-old blind cat.
"I was distraught and hyperventilating and crying," she said. "Then Cindy Smith, the volunteer program manager at the shelter, came out and said, 'Sit down. Today, is your lucky day.'"
Cremeans said that Smith told her a woman had just adopted a blind cat from Contra Costa Animal Services recently and that she might be willing to take in John Paul.
Turns out, Smith was right. Patricia Toy, a former Concord resident who had adopted Annie, a blind black cat, welcomed John Paul into her home near Mountain Ranch in Calaveras County.
Toy, who grew up in Lafayette, said she's always remained loyal to her Contra Costa County roots and wished to support the local shelter. She and her husband, Stephen, both retired nurses, have a soft spot for blind cats and animals that wouldn't otherwise have a chance of being adopted.
"I'm not perfect. I can't expect everything in my life to be perfect," said Toy.
So when Smith called her from the shelter about John Paul, Toy said she couldn't refuse.
But within days of bringing John Paul home, Toy said she noticed the cat had other health issues and he wasn't eating the food she served him. A vet found that John Paul had high colonic enema -- severe intestinal blockage and vomiting -- and the treatments have so far ended up costing John Paul's new owners about $900 in vet bills.
So Smith has set up an online campaign to help raise funds for John Paul's treatment.
"With so many shelter animals, why am I looking for help for just one of them?" Smith said. "Because I met Jean Paul, a blind 10-year-old chocolate point Siamese cat that melted my heart. Brought in by his owner who had lost her job and home, she was desperate to find a family who would love her special needs cat."
Smith said she's thrilled Toy stepped up to give John Paul a home. Now, Smith said she hopes the public will help John Paul's new parents shoulder the cost of saving his life.
"We've always had good experiences adopting at the Martinez shelter," Toy said.
While awaiting further veterinary treatment, Toy said that she and her husband have relied on their nursing skills to treat John Paul at home, including administering IV treatments and feeding him baby food.
Despite having two blind cats in the house, Toy said her animals have been getting along really well and that John Paul has made himself at home.
"We're watching him like a hawk," Toy said. "He's our little patient at the house."
Cremeans said she was sad to find out that John Paul was sick but still grateful to the Toys for giving him a new home.
"Pat sent me pictures of John Paul," Cremeans said. "It must have been God-sent because he went from one loving parent to two loving parents. If he had gotten sick while he was still with me, there's no way I could have afforded to pay for his care."
Aside from donating online, there's a donation box in front of the volunteers office at the Martinez shelter and anyone interested may send a check directly to the family by calling Smith for the Toy's mailing address.
Smith said she's amazed by the number of people who have stepped up to help a cat who has brought so much happiness to its owners.
"The community has come out to support this family in their time of need," Smith said. "In light of Hurricane Sandy, people who have a soft spot in their hearts for animals are still finding time and the generosity to contribute to animals despite this difficult economic time."
Toy said she's grateful for the support and that John Paul seems to be doing well so far.
"The two blind cats bump into each other but they adjust," Toy said. "They're fun and fearless and they're teaching me that things will work out."
To help support the blind Siamese cat with special needs, drop donations at Contra Costa Animal Services, call volunteer program manager Cindy Smith at 925-335-8335 or visit http://www.indiegogo.com/BlindShelterCat.