Written by Rebekah Marsh
Monday 7/30/2012 I get a call from the founder of the rescue. I’ve been asked to travel to shelters before to pick up kitties but had no idea what today was going to mean for me personally. The founder proceeds to tell me there are two very special young kitties (approx 15 weeks old) that have eye issues and the shelter they are located in is a kill shelter. She tells me that both of these kitties stand a little chance of adoption and need to get out. She asks I go see them (as I live closer) and report back on the severity of their condition. This shelter is approx 45 minutes from my home. I get myself together and head out. Going into a shelter is always a tough situation for someone like me. I want to take them all out.
I arrive at the shelter and prepare myself before entering. Bless the hearts of the people that work in these shelters that have compassion for animals. When a rescue person walks through the door they dance a fine line between trying to get kitties taken without being pushy. A lot of times they fail. Thank goodness for me, at this time I haven’t been given authority to pull on behalf of the rescue. The founder still has to be called before I can leave the building with any animals (this will change later and I will be given this authority).
The staff shows me to the intake/hold room and takes me straight to the cage of these special babies. In this cage are a lynx point siamese and a long haired tabby. They believe these kittens to be brothers as they are both suffering from the same eye infection (Herpes) and are the same age. They were found by animal control and were friendly (not feral) and no one has come forward to claim them. Their eyes were swollen, red, and covered in discharge. The tabby’s condition appeared to be much worse than the lynx point.
I call the founder and describe the eye condition of both kitties, we discuss it for a few minutes, I commit to foster through doc appointments and the founder gives the go ahead to pull these babies. She knows the rescue will have to do some specific fundraising for these guys as their medical expenses are going to be exhaustive. As we end our conversation the founder asks if there are any other “healthy” kittens that are available to be pulled (passed their 72 hour stray hold). I end up leaving the shelter with more than my original 2 charges.
Fast forward a month or so, both kitties have completed their quarantine in my heated garage and seen the primary veterinarian that works with our rescue. The decision is made that they both need to see a specialist (Ophthalmologist) and one is recommended.
Now the fun begins. By this time they are over their upper respiratory infections after completing a course of antibiotics. They’ve both had their shots, been dewormed, given a couple baths, and joined the crew of fosters already living with me. Their eyes, while they have improved, still look bad. They are given names: Mr Magoo for the Lynx point and Samson for the tabby.
First appointment with the Ophthalmologist was very intense. First of all her office was an hour away. After her initial examination she diagnoses the kids with eyelid agenesis. She also says that there is still inflammation from the herpes virus present and that both cats need to be on eye drops for awhile longer. She also feels that the tabby could be completely blind (the more severe of the two).
Eyelid agenesis easily stated is the lack of formation of the eyelids. This causes the fur to constantly rub the surface of the eye and can cause catastrophic corneal infections and blindness. There is a surgical procedure that can be done to create eyelids from the bottom lid but the cost is high for the procedure. Let the fundraising begin. Each surgery (per cat) is going to cost over $1500 and that’s not including the office visits these kitties have already had and will continue to have over the course of treatment.
A decision is made to move forward with the procedure for the Lynx point the moment his eyes are well enough for the procedure. At this time we are still unsure is the tabby has any vision at all. What we do know is one eye is non-functioning and will need to be removed. This procedure is done via the Veterinarian. The bad eye (ruptured cornea) is removed and the lids sewn together. So now the tabby has only one eye. Does this mean the surgery cost will be less for just one eye? Nope, it doesn’t work that way. Besides we still don’t know if he has any vision at all because he is still being treated for the herpes infection.
Fast forward to surgery day for Mr Magoo. Samson is do for a recheck to finally determine whether or not he has any vision. Lucky for Samson not two days before this appointment he did something that confirmed to both myself and my husband that he had vision. He tried to follow a laser pointer. Now mind you he didn’t follow it well, but he tried!
During Samson’s recheck it was confirmed he had limited vision. Speculation was that he could see differences between light and dark as well as pick up movement. This means surgery to save the eye right??? Not so fast. This is a rescue kitty and the decision isn’t mine. With such little vision would he be better off removing the eye ($300) or going through the extensive surgery ($1500).
That night I sit down to have a heart to heart with my husband. The truth of the matter is I have fallen in love with Samson. I cannot control the rescues decision on which way to go. I also cannot in good conscious let his eye be removed. My husband and I decide at that very moment that Samson is ours. He is no longer the rescues obligation and we will find a way to cover this surgical expense. Now I have to tell the founder.
Fast forward again, Magoo’s surgery went well, he recovers beautifully and gets adopted. It comes time for Samson’s surgery. The Ophthalmologist, once she learns I’ve decided to keep Samson myself, donates half of the surgery cost. He goes in for surgery. He does well and recovers great.
Samson then becomes my alter ego, creating his own blog, twitter and facebook page and sharing his antics and the antics of all our foster children with the world on social media.
I would not change a thing about how he came to be our “golden child”. We were meant for each other!
Editor's Note: To keep up with Samson's latest antics, visit his Facebook page Purrcatory. Samson's mom, Rebekah Marsh, is an incredible foster mom who works with our partner shelter, Sun Cities 4 Paws.