Desmond is my LBC (little black cat). He is almost three years old, and we have been taking care of each other since he was two and half weeks old. Desmond is completely blind — in fact, he has no eyes at all — due to an infection he had when I found him.
How did you get him?
I found Desmond standing smack in the middle of my lane of traffic on a bypass near my house. I saw him from a distance; his dark fur contrasted strongly with the light gray pavement. When I got close enough that I could tell that it was a kitten in my path, I stopped, got out of my car, and scooped him up. He curled up in my elbow and quietly rode the final couple of blocks to my house. At that moment, I did not know he couldn’t see, but I could tell he was terrified and exhausted. To make him even more pitiful, it was a drizzly morning. So, not only was he alone in the middle of a bypass, it was raining. To complete the scene, all he needed was someone to zoom by and splash gutter water on him.
I took The Kitten (naming leads to attachment, and we couldn’t have that) inside, got an empty laundry hamper, and made him a blanket nest. This was on a Sunday, so I wasn’t able to take him to the vet until the next day. After he took a long nap, I was able to feed him some lukewarm milk with a tiny syringe I had kept on hand since one of my other pets had been sick. After his meal, all he wanted to do was curl up on my chest and sleep. I was in denial at the time (“I’m not going to keep him. I have no way to,” I naively told my family), but, at this point, we were already bonded. Luckily, I have a very understanding family, and they have all accepted the fact that when it comes to animals, I will try my hardest to remain objective and unattached, but that is pretty much impossible for me.
What did you do with him?
Monday, at the vet, I was told The Kitten did not have very good chances of survival. “Pish posh,” I thought. “He’s going to live.” Three other kittens of the same age had been picked up at various points around town and dropped off at the vet, so it was assumed that someone had been dumping them off to fend for themselves. Let me remind you: these were not even three week old babies. Spay and neuter your pets. Or else get ready to have some new friends running around.
PSA aside, The Kitten had fleas and ear mites, and already a visible, bright red tumor in his ear. With a little bit of medicine and two baths with a mild anti-flea shampoo, the first two problems were easily fixed. The vet also believed that his “third eyelid,” which all cats have, was infected, and that his eyes hadn’t had a chance to develop yet, so that was why The Kitten couldn’t see. I was given a medicine the texture of Vaseline to squeeze into his eyes multiple times a day. Because I had already been accepted as “Mom,” The Kitten always held still for me and never complained when it came time for medicine. (If this doesn’t convince you that Desmond is an awesome cat, I don’t know what will!)
“Mom” duties also required teaching The Kitten how to bathe himself. Before you get ahead of yourself, no, I did not lick him. Yes, I have been asked that before. Instead, I did my best to mimic a cat tongue, by wrapping a damp, warm washcloth around my finger and combing over him in tiny strokes. He would hold totally still, just like during medicine time, and would even present his little face to me, so I could clean off all of the goopies that were constantly accumulating in his nose and eyes from his infections.
As the weeks continued and The Kitten’s eyes refused to develop, the vet made the call that The Kitten would always be blind. Sometimes, I still find this fact incredibly upsetting — even almost three years later. Desmond will never chase down skittering spiders across the bathroom floor. He will never watch tornados of leaves get caught in the crook of our back patio. Laser toys, birds, and all of those staples of cat entertainment, would never mean anything to him. But there was a bittersweet silver-lining. Because The Kitten’s eyes simply didn’t develop, he did not know that he couldn’t see. Darkness was his world, and as far as he knew, that’s the way it was for everyone.
As soon as this news was broken to me, I knew that I would officially be keeping The Kitten. There was no way I was going to hand him over to someone I didn’t know. So, The Kitten became Desmond, and Desmond became a college cat.
What actually happened with his eyes?
Even though Desmond did not have “eyes,” he still had little blue-white tissues in his sockets. People were always thrown off the first time they would look at him, and one person actually called him “spooky,” but I found those eyes absolutely fascinating. Desmond still blinked, squinted, and closed his eyes to sleep, just as if they were functioning.
Approximately six months after finding him, the vet and I made the decision to have those tissues completely removed and to have his eyes sewn shut. I didn’t want to because I loved the way he still blinked and looked at me with what I call the “love light” (that look of simple, unconditional love that all pet parents know). However, the fact was that Desmond’s eyelashes (cats have them, too!) were turning inward and this was causing his eyes to remain infected, which had great potential to lead to other health problems. He also needed surgery to have the tumor in his ear removed. Some beautiful friends at school, who had fallen in love with Desmond, created a secret collection of money which they presented to us as a gift. Thanks to them, I was able to afford these surgeries.
The change in Desmond after these surgeries was amazing. As soon as he stopped getting infections, he began gaining weight, his fur became much softer and shinier, and he also became much more talkative. Suddenly, he was a healthy cat.
What about the tumor?
The tumor turned out to be benign, so we do not expect any future complications. He still has some sinus issues, and occasionally, his eyes will puff up because air will get caught behind his scars. This doesn’t hurt him at all, and as soon as he sneezes a couple of times, they go back to normal. I was worried that Desmond would lose all of his amazing expressions once his eyes were sewn shut, but he didn’t. Even though he is stitched over, he still squints and you can even tell the difference between his eyes being “opened” and “closed.” He is pretty stinkin’ adorable.
How is Desmond now?
Desmond is just as playful and pounce-y as any other sighted cat. My worries about him not getting to play with leaves and laser pointers were unnecessary. Everything, regardless of whether or not I agree, is a toy to Desmond, so he is not missing out on any part of the total cat experience. There are also a good number of toys that crinkle, jingle, and rattle, so he even gets spoiled with commercial toys (until he loses them under the couch or fridge). Desmond is the happiest, most adventurous and fearless cat I have ever known. Everything is exciting and new to him, and the way he moves around, sometimes it is hard to believe that he can’t see at all. Overall, he is a slightly chunky, spoiled housecoat who loves to snuggle with his people.
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