Three weeks ago the big kids pulled a starving kitten with a raging eye infection out from under our house.
His birth mother, a local ferral cat, had given him up to his ailements, choosing to devote her energies to her remaining kittens.
The kids were in tears, litterally bawling over his sure demise, begging me to save him. Knowing that his mother had already given up, I felt responsible to at least get him into the hands of a vet, though I suspected he might not make it.
Had the kids not pulled him out when they did, he absolutely would not have made it another day.
|He was so tiny he literaly fit in my hand!|
I sustained him on cow's milk simply to help get some fluids in him for two nights until I could get him to the vet, though my research showed kittens can't get what they need from cow's milk. And I bathed him, soaked his eyes with warm compresses, and treated them with coconut oil. He finally was able to open them, but it was obvious he was blind, they were far too damaged. Probably had been even before they first opened. We couldn't quite determine his age, but I was pretty sure he was a boy.
My mommy instinct kicked into overdrive, and by thunder, this kitten was not going to die on my watch!
He was miraculously flea free, so after a thorough bath, he remained constantly warmly wrapped in a towel cuddled up on one of our laps or in my makeshift sling (primarily to prevent Kit from messing with him while I had to do things like cook and wash dishes.) Overbearing reminders were issued repeatedly to wash hands or use sanitizer.
|She loves this kitty soooo much!|
After much research, Victor and I discussed the cat's fate. After relating what I had learned about owning a blind cat, as well as all other considerations, we came to an agreement. I was taking the cat to the vet the next day. If the vet confirmed no chance of sight, then we could keep him.
This might sound odd, but our family is in fact a much better fit for a blind cat than a sighted one. He is by default a strictly indoor cat, which is essential for us to own a cat because we have too many wild ones around here that can cause problems with fights and disease. Since he can't see outside what he's missing, then his desire to go outside is enormously reduced. And should he end up finding his way out, he is not likely to stray far from the door as everything would be so overwhelming and unfamiliar. Aside from that, someone is almost always home, we don't move furniture often, and we have lots of love to go around!
The vet indeed confirmed absolute blindness, but that was the last of her concerns at the moment. Determining his age at about four weeks, his severe dehydration and malnourished body led her to feel he had very little hope. She gave him a fluid injection, a deworming treatment, a prescription for antibiotics, special high calorie food and kitten milk, and said "if he makes it till Monday, then maybe he'll make it till Wednesday, then maybe till Friday. Schedule him for a recheck in a week and we'll see."
She was pleasantly surprised to see him with a plump belly and infection free a week later. Playful and curious.
He might need another round of antibiotics before he is big enough to have a better chance of surviving surgery, another several weeks at least. The longer we can keep him relatively infection free and growing, the better his chances of successful surgery.
His eyes are scarred and bulgy, but otherwise, you can't even tell that he is blind. He walks all over the house. Playfully attacks the dog's tail. He's completely litter trained (he still needs practice covering it up completely, but he's a baby), he navigates around obstacles without actually touching them, he finds his way to me no matter where I am in the house, he's frisky and playful, he loves to cuddle and his purr gets louder everyday.
In the last two weeks he has weaned from kitten mlk to soft food to moistented dry, and soon will be on plain dry, learned to walk, learned to use, but more importantly, find, the litter box, and has already learned the basic layout of the house and how to get to his food, water, and sleeping boxes, or one of us when he desires play and company. And I have no doubt that he knows every one of us by smell and sound. He can tell the difference between me walking across the floor and Victor or Zak.
And he is brave! He stalks the dog and goes about his business even with Kit picking him up and moving him every three seconds. He is gentle in his play. And as much as I have to attend to his eyes and feed him meds, he is merely irritated at it, but he doesn't lash out or attack.
When it was decided that he belonged with us now, we spent days trying to find the name everyone felt best fit him. Fifty-some-odd suggestions and four days later, we finally found...Ivan. We all just sort of knew it when we heard it, it just fit.
The kids fought over who would clean the cat box. Grace won. I don't expect that level of enthusiasm to last forever, but it's sweet while it's here.
The kids each snuggle with him for part of their reading time at night. And then he comes to spend the rest of the night with his Mommy. A snuggly cat beats a heating pad every time, even if he is only half a pound!
He's not entirely out of the clear yet. We are very aware that his health could crash even before surgery, though that seems less and less a likelihood. But, he's still very small and the risks associated with anesthesia are still quite high. But we will see what time and good nutrition can further accomplish.
In the meantime I love seeing his belly fill out and his muscles grow and, best of all, running my fingers along his spine and feeling less and less of each bone as he fills out.
And I am so proud of my kids. Despite his eyes going through nearly every conceivable phase of "eew", the kids have never acted repulsed or disgusted. They have a compassion for him which is so deep it's amazing. They see his eyes and worry only if he might be in pain. Beyond that, all they see is how cute, sweet, and in need of love he is. I couldn't be more honored to know such good people.
They make my heart so full.
Interestingly, I just looked up the name Ivan. I knew it was Russian. But it turns out it is the Russian form of John, which means "God is Gracious." Kind of a sweet coinciedence.