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Meet Jasper, the hairless cat with no eyes who just became an internet sensation

TODAY logo TODAY 9/14/2020 Alyssa Newcomb

At first glance, Jasper, a hairless and eyeless cat, looks like a creature from a Halloween movie, but the feline's fans on Instagram know he's actually quite cute.

Jasper has more than 77,000 followers on Instagram, where his owner, Kelli, shares photos and stories from Jasper's fabulous life at home in Maine.

"I got him 11 years ago this December," Kelli told TODAY. "He was a Christmas gift. Some friends of mine always knew I wanted a hairless cat and got him as a rescue for cheap. At the time, we thought he was healthy."

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Kelli said Jasper would occasionally have a flare-up of the feline herpes virus, which causes runny eyes, but everything else was otherwise normal. That changed in 2013, when Jasper had his first corneal ulcer.

"I rushed him to the emergency vet," Kelli said. "He was in pain, and we decided it was time to get him out of pain and remove an eye." Five years later, it happened all over again."

Despite not being able to see, Jasper has adapted well to life without eyeballs, according to his owner.

"He does pretty good," Kelli said. "The first day home from the vet, he was climbing on the couch and on my shoulder and all over the place trying to explore. It was amazing to watch him."

While Jasper has a good quality of life now, Kelli added that hasn't always been the case.

"In April 2019, he had a stroke," she said. "With him being blind, it was harder to recover from that. He didn't have his eyes to reorient himself to the world. He gets around really well, but sometimes he gets confused."

When Kelli isn't home, she puts Jasper in a pen so he can navigate his surroundings in a controlled environment. She said it also gives her peace of mind knowing he's safe.

Jasper also recently got two companions at home, a pair of rescue cats that were already bonded. One of them, Tessa, is also blind and "obsessed" with Jasper, Kelli said.

"A lot of people seem to have concerns I'm stretching this out and think he has no quality of life," Kelli said. "Through every step of the way, I made sure I was keeping in touch with my vets and asking, 'Are we at a point where a quality of life discussion needs to happen?' As strange as it sounds, he has a good quality of life. He's a happy cat."

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