Sweet blind charity... it's what we pet people live for
Tuesday brought an unexpected little miracle. It arrived in the guise of voraciously hungry little stray male kitten. He was riddled with fleas, sported no fur over his ears, face feet and tail and suffered raw pink patches over his back and belly. The tiny white and gray 8 week-old thing was a pitiful sight more reminiscent of Pinky (of Pinky and the Brain fame) than of any earthly feline.
So pitiful was he, in fact, that I was unable to take my eyes off him as I held him in my hands. He, in turn, strained to look at me as I cooed at him—but he couldn’t seem to keep his head still enough to focus. Though all his ocular equipment seemed present and roughly functional, a crude series of vision tests soon proved he was entirely blind,
Worst of all, as I observed his behavior, I began to notice some strange head bobbing characteristic to brainstem-damaged patients. Who knows what else this kitten had had to contend with before he’d been found in a strip mall parking lot? A virus? Head trauma? A sick mother? Who knows?
The client who’d brought him in was none too average, himself. A supremely sweet, though not-all-there type, he’d always taken excellent care of his cats, even driving across town frequently for us to meet his adopted colony’s healthcare needs. This kitten may not have been a perfect match for his oddball multi-cat household, but he was willing to do whatever necessary to care for this piteous creature.
After a bath, I’ll admit he looked almost like a cat. He was negative for FeLV and FIV but was festering with hookworms, ear mites and sarcoptic mange—maybe ringworm, too. Dewormed and Revolutionized (I use Revolution instead of Ivermectin injections or dips on weak parasitized animals), now I had only to deal with this pesky vision thing.
Because yesterday happened to be my day off, I was able to manage an appointment with the local ophthalmologist. Now, I don’t often do this for my clients but this special client can’t necessarily be relied upon to find new places easily (nor does he have much cash to spend on a specialist). Knowing that all I needed was a vague diagnosis, a general prognosis and basic guidelines for care, I took this kitten myself.
Confession time: I must admit that I’m a little afraid of this specialist. She went through vet school before I was born and was perhaps one of the first women who ever graduated from my alma mater (Penn). She’s a drill sergeant when it comes to client compliance and I’m convinced she thinks I’m a two-bit vet—a discredit to our school, even—because I send even the slightest ophthalmologically challenging cases her way.
Truth is, I agree with her assessment of my ophthalmology skills. Our hospital hasn’t the toys to handle difficult eye cases (indeed, most hospitals don’t)—and she happens to work five minutes away. This arrangement has both served my clients well and contributed to the deterioration of my eye medicine. Still, it’s not as if a human GP is expected to undertake even the most basic eye cases. Thus, I console myself for my failings.
She was exceedingly kind, however, upon my arrival. Moreover, she refused to charge me for the kitten’s simple diagnosis: failure to achieve normal neural pathway development—for unknown reasons. Her take on prognosis? Poor with respect to vision, but still hopeful given his youth.
I made my way out of her hospital with this sweet blind kitten, thinking I’d take him home if his adopted father couldn’t handle the thought of a “special” cat in his household. Luckily, I was wrong. His new Dad was more than happy to take over his intensive care. Thank God for small miracles.
NB: Yes, that's him in the post-pic up top (double-click on it to get a better view).