Meet Murdock, the Marvelous
Murdock the Marvelous is an orange tabby like no other. The one-time stray kitten with a mountain of medical issues is now a superhero, a bona fide celebrity cat with hundreds of thousands of fans. Most importantly, he’s a beloved family pet.
Despite his popularity, the laid-back cat from Santa Rosa takes it all in stride. He’s as happy sitting on a sunny windowsill at home as he is posing for selfies with adoring cat lovers who line up to meet him at cat shows and charity events.
When he was brought to the Humane Society of Sonoma County as a tiny kitten, scraggly and with eyes that had ruptured from a chronic infection, no one knew if Murdock would survive.
“He was a sick little guy,” said Anna Hill, a registered veterinary technician who helped treat Murdock when he arrived at the Santa Rosa shelter. “He had a hard start at life. Life can be hard, but it gets better.”
Even though he’s blind, confident Murdock — named for Marvel Comics’ blind Daredevil superhero Matt Murdock — does everything cats with vision can do, including leaping on furniture. “He doesn’t even realize he’s blind. He can catch flies. He jumps up and eats one better than cats with eyes,” Hill said. “He’s really graceful and hardly ever runs into things.
“I don’t think he’s ever been able to see. It’s normal to him and I think that’s why he’s been able to adapt. He’s a good boy.”
His impressive abilities have earned Murdock, now 7, the professional moniker “Murdock the Marvelous, the Magical Blind Cat.” That’s how he’s known to more than 300,000 followers on Facebook, who watch online for his every move.
He also has fans who play Nom Cat, a mobile video game, where there’s a pixel art version of Murdock that players can purchase to feed an endless wave of fish in the challenging Lucky Kat Studios release.
Still other fans wear T-shirts emblazoned with a cute Murdock likeness with a heart-shaped nose and a sweet smile; 100 were sold after a friend of Hill’s created the design.
Hill, who’s in her 40s, never intended for Murdock to become a star. She didn’t even plan to adopt him. Because he needed round-the-clock care initially, she fostered and bottle-fed Murdock at her home, where her bathroom is often outfitted with IVs and other medical equipment to provide care to particularly frail animals.
Murdock was 2 weeks old when he arrived at the Humane Society. Even through illnesses and recoveries from his surgeries, he was sweet and affectionate. He and Hill developed a bond from the start. Within a month, Hill knew he’d be a permanent member of her family.
“He has the best personality,” she said. “I’ve never had a cat like him. He’s friendly and the funniest sweet little boy.” From the start, Murdock had a will to survive. “Ever since he was a kitten he’s been content. He’s a happy cat. He’s a fighter.”
Hill opened a Facebook page in the fall of 2013 for friends and relatives to follow Murdock’s progress. When she posted a “casual picture” of her son, Waylon, then a toddler, in a Superman costume on the porch with Murdock in a matching outfit, cat lovers everywhere took notice. The Huffington Post shared the photo, starting off a maelstrom of Murdock mania. Hill and Murdock also appeared in a video posted by the Huffington Post, streamed from the Humane Society in Santa Rosa.
The cat’s Facebook page exploded with fans across the country, posting comments and clicking “loves” and “likes” of approval every time Hill shared a new photo or video of Murdock, often with his best friend, Waylon, now 10.
“I’m not even a professional photographer. These are photos from my iPhone,” Hill said.
Images of Murdock smiling or yawning, outstretched on his back, playing with Waylon, or posing with other family pets often were accompanied by catchy phrases or affirmations like “Broken crayons still color” and “Life is a one-time offer. Use it well.”
The Facebook fame helped bring numerous people to fundraising events for Sonoma County nonprofits assisting animals, including the Humane Society, Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County and Santa Rosa-based Compassion without Borders, a rescue program Hill works with regularly.
“All of a sudden there were lines of people waiting to meet him,” she said. “A lot of people gave money and donations.”
Additionally, staff from the veterinary technician program at Santa Rosa Junior College and schools for the blind reached out and shared Murdock’s inspiring story with students.