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Blind cat Floyd Mayweather transforms into 'friendliest' pet after hard life outdoors

The tough feline survived on the streets for about a decade. Now he sunbathes with his best friend, Sugar Ray Leonard.
TWINNING | Cats Floyd Mayweather and Sugar Ray Leonard, who bear a striking resemblance, now enjoy life together indoors.
TWINNING | Cats Floyd Mayweather and Sugar Ray Leonard, who bear a striking resemblance, now enjoy life together indoors.Courtesy of Melissa Fiore
/ Source: TODAY

A cat named Floyd Mayweather is a successful fighter, just like his namesake. But now he’s retired from a rough-and-tumble life of self-defense on the streets of New Jersey and relaxes every day in his loving forever home.

Floyd was 10 to 12 years old when advocates from the nonprofit Neighborhood Cats were working to humanely trap, neuter and return a colony of community cats last spring in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The first time Jade Vazquez, TNR director for the nonprofit’s branch in Jersey City, saw the old tomcat, he was walking between two buildings and leaning on a wall as if for guidance.

“I thought, ‘There’s something wrong with the cat,’” she told TODAY. “I’ve been doing this long enough to know that there’s something not quite right.”

THE FIGHTER | Floyd managed to survive on the streets of New Jersey for an estimated 10-12 years.Melissa Fiore

The next day, she set up a trap on the sidewalk, and the brown tabby approached — crying, which was another red flag.

“It’s unusual for a feral cat to cry. They don’t like to bring attention to themselves, but if they’re in pain or a bit of distress, they will cry,” she said. “He actually walked straight into a lamppost and stunned himself.”

Vazquez moved the trap closer and re-baited it with fresh tuna to make the smell stronger. But he still walked straight past the front door to the trap. She positioned it so that the only place he could go was straight in. He finally made it inside and started chowing down on the fish.

I SPY | Once the cat was inside the trap, Jade Vazquez realized he was blind.Jade Vazquez

She covered the trap with a blanket to help calm him and took him to the holding area, where she got a good look at him and realized he was essentially blind. One eye was sunken, and both corneas were badly scarred from fighting.

With typical TNR cases, community cats (formerly called “feral”) are trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and returned to the area where they were found (and where people are typically leaving food for them). Since most adult community cats wouldn’t adjust well to life inside a home, TNR is the humane alternative to euthanasia.

But Vazquez and her team felt releasing an old blind tomcat back onto the streets would be tantamount to a death sentence. Instead, Floyd — then called Pickles — went to live with Vazquez for five weeks while she got him veterinary treatment. Neighborhood Cats successfully crowdfunded to pay for the cat’s care and put out a call for adopters for the surprisingly docile cat.

“I thought he was going to be a really mean cat because he was a big boy,” Vazquez said. “But because he couldn’t see, once you touched him, he would let you pet him. If you rushed in and grabbed him, then he was on the defensive. He was ready to bite. But he turned out to be a nice cat.”

GENTLE SOUL | Despite living a rough life on the streets of New Jersey for at least a decade, Floyd Mayweather is friendly and feels safe with humans.Melissa Fiore

When paralegal Melissa Fiore, 45, heard about the blind, “slow-moving teddy bear,” she was not looking to adopt another cat. She already had three rescue cats adopted from the nonprofit Pet Adoption Network, for which she volunteers.

But the Hazlet, New Jersey, resident has a soft spot for hard-luck cases and immediately reached out to Neighborhood Cats.

“I just had to adopt him,” she told TODAY.

Fiore renamed him Floyd Mayweather and after about a month, he became best friends with her other battered old tomcat, Sugar Ray Leonard.

KINDRED SPIRITS | Former feral cats Floyd Mayweather and Sugar Ray Leonard are best friends who love living indoors now.Melissa Fiore

“When Floyd came to me, he initially was in a cage for about a month because he had bloody urine and needed to be on several rounds of antibiotics before he got better,” she said. “Sugar Ray Leonard is very attentive to another cat that’s not feeling well or unhappy. So Sugar Ray Leonard would typically sit near the cage, looking at Floyd and just showing interest and what I would call concern. He knows when another cat’s not happy, and he’s very in tune with it.”

Now the two BFFs love to relax in sunny spots together, following the sunlight as it travels from room to room. Floyd Mayweather also adores his new mom, pressing against her whenever she’s working from home on the couch. He’s gained 6 pounds, gets along with Fiore’s other rescue cats, Googles and Lily, and is always the first one to jump onto the bed at night.

GOLDEN YEARS | Melissa Fiore calls adopting Floyd Mayweather and Sugar Ray Leonard two of her life's greatest successes. "They're here. They're comfortable. They're no longer in pain, and they have access to clean food and water every day, and medical care," she told TODAY.Melissa Fiore

Fiore said it warms her heart to see the companionship between her pets. She’s also amazed that a cat who lived outside, unfixed, his whole life is completely comfortable in a home with a human.

“He is the friendliest cat in the house,” she said. “He’s my best friend.”