The story, as there always is one, was that the kitten had been found in a mud puddle. His rescuer promptly brought him to the shelter. This would be his first angel. There was obviously something wrong with him that even the least experienced animal person could recognize. I image the mere sight of him was a bit off putting if not worse.
If I say the kitten was a pitiful mess that would be an understatement. It was tiny. Barely bigger than the palm of my hand. Scrawny, dirty, and sickly…so sick in fact that ulcers had formed on the eye ball of each of its tiny eyes. This might have been the first uncute kitten I’d ever seen.
It looked as of tiny barnacles, like those that grow on the backs of those huge whales had planted themselves in the center of each eye ball. While it may have been just the growths, but they seem to make it look as if his eyes also were bulging outward. Regardless, it was very hard to look at and I kept thinking how painful this must be.
One might think that this little guy didn’t have a chance in hell of making it and in fact, had he been brought to the shelter at any other time than after closing hours that may have been the case. Animals this young and this sickly are not commonly kept (in layman’s terms that means euthanized). As much as our Staff wants to do so, trying to save animals in this condition at this vulnerable age is not only difficult and expensive but it often ends poorly. The very young and very sick are just not meant for the shelter environment with its constant influx of animals, exposure to other diseases common in the shelter environment, stressful living environment, less than sterile air flow, etc. All the things that make a shelter that is open to everything and everyone not the ideal place for the very sick and young to survive. This is why you don’t frequently see tiny kittens and puppies in our shelter. We try to quickly place them in foster homes where they can be quarantined from other animals in quieter environments.
As such, the truth be told had the kitten been dropped off during normal business hours in the terrible shape it was in, our staff would have sadly but readily known that the best they could do for it was to put it out of its misery.
But this kitten arrived just after closing and the only people there were two of our Board members and volunteers doing some after-hours volunteering. And two bigger softies you’ll never find. Lucky for this kitten Kim Davis and Lee Buckingham took the kitten in.
Please know I adore both of them and they are incredible people and animal lovers. They are both ALL heart. Kim rushed the kitten to AVet who quickly diagnosed that it was very likely blind as a result of a severe upper respiratory infection that had led to the apparent eye damage. It would if it survived at all, not likely ever see again.
I would learn about the kitten the next day when a tearful Kim, who had of course been up all night worrying about the little guy and having had her hopes dashed for regaining its sight, was reeling with the slim hopes for this little guy. If it would survive, who would adopt a blind kitten? And if surgery were needed as was suggested by Dr. Joe at AVet to remove the eyes, it would surely be expensive. And then what sort of life would the kitten have even if a home were found? This was all too much to bear for Kim and she was overwhelmed with emotion.
As Kim spilled the kitten’s story through tears, the answer came easily to me. In part because I don’t have the heart to break Kim’s so the answer had to be that we would raise the money to get the kitten surgery if we could find a foster and get it healthy again. And then we’d worry about finding him a home. Sure, why not? We’d just have to find a foster home where it would have the best chance. My rooms were full and Kim had no room for more foster’s at her house either. But Debbie Hine’s came to the rescue again and took him home with her. She had a houseful of fosters but would fit him in. Another angel to the rescue.
And so it began.
First, he would need a name. I named him Davis that night as I began to rally donations for his surgery on Facebook. I thought it seemed appropriate. People were aghast at the photos but that also spurned them to open their wallets and help. More angels!
Soon Dr. Leslie Elliott a vet and great friend of our shelter would step up and offer to do the surgery pro bono. Another of Davis’ angels. And as if he somehow knew he had a team of supporters behind him, Davis started rallying too. His lungs clearing up, eating, playing and putting on weight.
When Debbie decided to take him to see an eye specialist at MedVet in Columbus, our hopes for sight were dashed when the test results showed he had no vision and in fact his eyes were shrinking. They encouraged removal soon as there was likely some associated pressure that was likely causing him pain and the only solution was to remove each eye and sew them shut. He would look permanently asleep.
Sometimes I just marvel at how incredibly resilient and strong even the tiniest of creatures can be when faced with remarkable challenges. If Davis struggled at all with the loss of sight and the eventual loss of his eyes altogether, you’d never know it watching him play and cavort. And if I tell you that when I watched this video myself for the first time I thought he certainly must have some vision despite what three different vets had assured us was not the case. Then I remembered that his eyes had been removed a few weeks earlier. This kitten has no sight because he has no eyes. And yet watching the video it’s difficult to believe!
When Brittney Chuyko, of a rescue we work with in Pennsylvania, heard about Davis she was deeply moved by his story. She had recently lost a kitten with a similar problem and unable to save him, she was compelled to save another. She wasn’t wanting to bring him into her rescue but rather personally adopt him! Another angel.
Davis renamed Ziggy is now home, curling up in his favorite spot, which is around Brittney’s neck, and playing as if he hasn’t a care in the world. Maybe that is so because so many people cared about him. He may have no eyes to see but he has a huge heart and will and all the angels that helped to bring him out of any darkness, into the light and then into a life that is overflowing with love.