The face of an angel!
by Brooke Billingsley,
It’s not every day you find an animal on the internet whose adventures keep you on the edge of your seat, but today I’m going to introduce you to a cat with such dramatic adventures that you’ll wait with bated breath to hear the outcomes. I first met Angel Eyes through the Facebook group THIS CAT IS W O N K Y. Let me tell you a little about her background, life with fur mom Catherine, and special needs before we get into her adventures.
Her name is Angel Eyes and while she was named for the ABBA song of the same name, she was named such because when she was found, she was already completely blind. Angel Eyes came from a condemned home with 16 other cats. She was missing one eye and had a severe cataract in the other eye. Angel Eyes was listed for adoption, but few people seemed interested in a blind cat. Catherine had been involved with the rescue organization, BARK , who had taken Angel Eyes and her housemates in, and she agreed to foster her. Angel Eyes was adopted but was returned due to a dirty secret: poop. Here’s what Catherine had to say, “She poops everywhere but the litter box. Poop under the bed. Poop on the carpet. Poop on the stairs. She pees in the box with no problem, but the poop is everywhere. Our groomer [the adopter] had dogs who would eat the poop, so Angel Eyes came back to me – for good.”
When Catherine saw there was no additional interest in Angel Eyes the poop ninja, she decided to become her forever home. Having already had experience with blind cats with her cat Onyx, Catherine understood what she was getting into. After adoption, the vet recommended an enucleation, or eye removal surgery, due to the condition of Angel Eyes’ remaining eye. Catherine paid the $500 and helped Angel Eyes through the two weeks of dealing with sutures and the cone of shame.
Angel Eyes also has two other medical issues: plasma cell pododermatitis or “pillow foot”, and hot spots. Not to mention the “worst breath of any cat I’ve met”, according to Catherine. Catherine further explained her medical conditions to me: “Pillow foot is an autoimmune condition which causes inflammation and pain in the paw pads. It affected her when she first came to me, and it resolved on its own without treatment. It can recur at any time, but fortunately, it has not. I think it was stress-induced from living outdoors and changing homes, and I’m quite sure her pooping issues are related. Hotspots are areas of hair loss, not caused by overgrooming. She has had two or three episodes, where she will develop hair loss and redness on her skin underneath. I treat the area topically with Vetricyn ointment and cover the area with a sock collar (all have been on her neck) to prevent further injury.”
I talked to Catherine about what it’s like to have a cat with special needs like Angel Eyes and Onyx. It turns out that Catherine has seven cats, three of whom are blind; Angel Eyes, Onyx, and Ray Ray. I think she explains the strengths of blind cats better than I ever could, “Blind cats are amazingly intelligent. Their other senses compensate for their lack of sight. I often hear Angel Eyes sniffing the air and see her extending a paw before she jumps or climbs.
I have water fountains for the cats, which serve a dual purpose: they provide fresh drinking water and they let the blind cats know where to find water and food! I sprinkle catnip on the scratching posts so they can find them, too.” Onyx and Ray Ray are willing to run up and down the stairs, as well as having no fear of jumping on and off high surfaces. Angel Eyes is…well, she’s different. Maybe she is not the smartest kitty or maybe her senses are less developed than Onyx and Ray Ray, but either way Angel Eyes is not as fearless as her siblings. She is afraid of jumping off high levels. She is more than willing to jump up onto high objects, but the getting back down part is scarier for her.
This is where the adventures of Angel Eyes come in. Catherine’s posts of Angel Eyes will have you on the edge of your seat, watching her gain the courage to jump the six inches from the lowest level of a bookshelf to the floor below. Sometimes Angel Eyes even gets one or two feet off the ground, in a cat tree or on the bed. It’s tense to watch the videos and it’ll have you tempted to call the fire department to get her down, but Angel Eyes often finds her bravery and makes the leap. Well, maybe I shouldn’t call it a leap because it’s usually backwards. Butt first. Using her claws to lower herself down. But watching Angel Eyes safely make it to the ground will have you cheering her on through your computer or phone screen.
In case you were wondering if a loving, supportive home has helped Angel Eyes abandon her poop ninja ways, it has not. However, Catherine says she is a creature of habit and often returns to the same spots, so potty pads are kept down and Angel Eyes “dutifully uses them”. When I asked Catherine about Angel Eyes personality, here’s what she told me, “Angel Eyes is the most insecure of my cats. When she hears me, she comes to find me. She meows the most: to let me know where she is, if she needs help, if she wants to snuggle. She’s the only cat that sleeps with me every night, usually under the blankets. She loves belly rubs and butt scratches, and will play-fight in a very kittenish way, nibbles and all. I trim her claws when they get painful (to me) on the receiving end of her biscuit making.” Honestly, she sounds like an absolute joy.
As an owner of a special needs cat myself, I wanted to know more about how Catherine felt about her special needs babies. “Special needs cats are a joy. I’m constantly amazed at how quickly and ably they compensate for their circumstances. My blind crew is a lot of fun to watch, as they occasionally do walk into the wall or misjudge a chair height.” Special needs pets may need small changes within a home to keep them safe and help them move around, but accidents and misjudgments do happen and they are rarely injured in safe, supportive homes.
I also asked Catherine if she had any additional thoughts about special needs cats or rescue to add. Here’s what she told me, “Working with a BARK in Arizona (and Jill’s Ferals here in Port Jervis, NY) opened my eyes to the greater needs of the cat community. Overpopulation is the biggest problem we face: shelters are overcrowded, community cats multiply, rescues are tapped out and caregivers are overburdened. Community cats often have infections or congenital issues that plague them all their lives.
I fully support TNR efforts and will continue to donate my time and resources locally. I wish there were more low-cost clinics available nationwide. In Arizona, we could spay or neuter a feral for $25, at any number of s/n clinics. In my part of NY State, it costs $70 (a city grant has defrayed some of the cost this year). I do not ask for donations for my own household, but if you would like to support the TNR efforts in my city, we are always in need of assistance.” Here is a link to the Port Jervis TNR program, https://www.gofundme.com/f/projectcitycat-tnr-port-jervis, for anyone interested in donating to their efforts.
If you’re interested in seeing more of Angel Eyes, check out the THIS CAT IS W O N K Y Facebook group and keep an eye out for my favorite adventure cat.