Cats Just Wanna Have Fun!

Since my last couple of posts have been ultra-serious, I thought that I would share some sweet pics of Jinx and Milo being silly! I borrowed some classic 1980s lyrics, just because I love that era!

                    Break dance!
I have a tail to tell...
                     I have a tail to tell…
Private eyes, they're watching you!
Private eyes, they’re watching you!
Upside down boy you turn me inside out!
Upside down, boy you turn me inside out!
Hungry Eyes
                    Hungry Eyes
Beat it! Just beat it!
                     Beat it! Just beat it!

Surgery or Not?

First of all, thank you to everyone who has “liked” and commented on my last couple of blogs, concerning my cat Milo’s eye disorder diagnosis and his future options. Some of you have asked questions about the type of surgery he may need. I will attempt to break it all down for you here. Additionally, I will try to explain my mixed feelings about going through with this.

Cats have complicated eyelids. Here is a link with an explanation of how cats’ eyes normally work.

I am confused as to what Dr. K. meant when she said Milo has “no eyelids.” Did she mean upper or lower lids? Both? Here is an article I found about a kitten named Phil, who was born without upper lids, and the surgery he went through.  As you can see from the pictures, the surgery and recovery looks more painful than the original condition!

Then, there is the scary reality of what can happen if this condition, known as Eyelid Agenesis, is not treated. Milo could develop scar tissue in his unprotected eyes and eventually lose his sight.

Milo, just chillin'
Milo, just chillin’

The local animal hospital that diagnosed my cat’s condition, sent me a list of recommended procedures, and a breakdown of the costs involved. I won’t get into the money part. Let’s pretend that I’m a millionaire (far from it!) and I could afford anything. I would still be hesitant to go through with the surgery, just because it sounds… so… scary. Here is everything on the itemized price list that the vet sent me (minus the cost):

1.Office Examination

  1. Bloodwork
  2. Hospitalization
  3. Injectable Atropine
  4. Injectable Propofol
  5. Injectable Anesthesia
  6. Isoflurane
  7. Injectable Paid Med/ Buprenex .03
  8. Injectable Pain Med/ Bupivicaine .25
  9. Injectable Metacam/ Loxicom
  10. Entropion Correct
  11. Elizabethian Collar- Large
  12. Medication Dispensed
  13. Suture Monocryl 2-0 Y-762H

Can you see why I would be nervous?

I’ve read up on the surgery they want to do (you can Google “Entropion Correction in Cats” to learn more), and usually, this operation is done when a cat’s eyelid turns inward, causing the eyelashes to scratch the corneas and cause irritation and sometimes ulceration. But Milo has no eyelids to begin with! What they would do is cut a tiny sliver of his skin from around his eye so that the hairs there won’t poke him in the eye. That is the cheapest option. I am worried that If I do this, it will be harder for him to close his eyes. (How he closes his eyes without eyelids to begin with is beyond me.) The most expensive option would be to actually build him eyelids, using a strip of skin taken from elsewhere on his body. I can’t help picturing a butcher’s diagram of a cow.

Butcher Map of a Cow
Butcher Map of a Cow

Then, there’s all those drugs! Holy cow, Propofol?!? That’s the stuff that killed Michael Jackson! This relaxes a patient before surgery and helps them sleep. Atropine is a drug to keep his heart stable. The fact that this is needed terrifies me! If I consent to the surgery, I might be putting Milo at risk of having a heart attack??? And why does he need three different kinds of pain meds? My poor little guy!

I need to find out the name of the surgeon who’d be doing this, how often he’s done this type of surgery, the success rate, and the risks. Of course, there are also risks to not having the surgery, as I pointed out earlier… infection, scarring, and blindness among them. I’d be devastated if Milo lost his sight. He’s such and observant cat, and he loves to chase anything that moves.

So far, he’s doing great with the twice-daily eye lubricant. No redness, he doesn’t rub his eyes, and his eyesight seems fine. I’ve stopped using aerosol sprays (like air freshener), because I want to remove all possible irritants from his environment.

So. That is where we stand… on a pedestal of confusion and uncertainty. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


A Cat Is Not a Blender

In my last blog, I talked about Milo’s recent visit to the vet, and the stunning revelation that he was born with no eyelids. I’ve had time to reflect more on this situation, and I have some additional thoughts to share.

I didn’t exactly acquire Milo by accident, but he wasn’t planned for either. I hadn’t set out to get a kitten. I wanted an adult male to keep my girl, Jinx, company. But when I happened upon an ad for this darling little fellow, in need of rehoming, I couldn’t resist. I saw right away that he had strange eyes, but I didn’t learn until many months later, that Milo was actually born without eyelids, a birth defect. However, I doubt that this was the first time Milo’s condition was diagnosed.

When I “adopted” him from his original human parents, Milo came with EVERYTHING… food, litterbox, toys, etc. And the couple would not take any money! They also gave me a record of his shots, and a list of dates when he’d be due for other inoculations. These records were from a very reputable local veterinary office. There is no way that any doctor– even one fresh out of medical school– could have overlooked Milo’s condition. I believe that the vet who examined him when he was a little bitty kitten, must have informed Mr. and Mrs M. of his “difference” and recommended surgery. I imagine they couldn’t handle the demands of a Special Needs animal, and were desperate to unload him. (Without elaborating, I don’t think that cost was an issue.) I guess that’s why they were so generous with all the “extras” he came with. A few weeks after I took Milo in, I texted Mrs M. a pic of Milo and let her know that he was doing fantastic. She never replied. Feeling guilty, much?

Milo Me and pumpkins 007
                    Milo Smiling Kitten

A cat, my friends, is not a blender. You don’t take him back to the store because there’s something wrong with him. Cats don’t come with a manufacturer’s warranty. A cat is not a used car that turns out to be a “lemon.” He is an animal that may have been born with innate problems that were a quirk of nature. A cat is not an inanimate object. He has a heart, a soul, and feelings.

I guess Milo and I were lucky to find each other. The M’s could have dumped him on the side of the road, to fend for himself. They could have brought him to a shelter, where he’d likely be euthanized, or else gone unadopted for years because of his “difference.” He could have been adopted by a family who let him roam outdoors, which would be a recipe for blindness, since his vulnerable eyes would be exposed to the elements. He lucked out getting me for a Mom, and I am lucky to have found such a sweet, loving boy. I’m grateful to be in a position to be able to spread the word about the plight of Special Needs animals.

Right now, I am treating Milo’s eyes twice a day with a lubricant ointment that contains mineral oil and white petrolatum (keeps irritants out). Applying it takes just a couple of minutes each day. Other than that, there is nothing different about Milo. He eats, sleeps, purrs, and plays like any other cat.

The next time you are thinking of adopting a new pet, don’t look for one that is physically perfect; search for the one that is perfect for you.

Milo All Grown Up
         Milo All Grown Up

A Cat With No Eyelids

Ever since I acquired my “little guy” (well, not so little anymore), I noticed that there was something different about his eyes. I’ve had many cats, and their eyes were lovely, round, and bright. Not Milo. In this case, they were little and squinty. I wondered if he were blind. It didn’t take me long to realize that he could see just fine. As a kitten, he watched big sister Jinx’s every move. He never bumped into things, and he was as agile and quick as any other cat. He loved to swat at any string or ribbon I might dangle before him. But… those eyes. They worried me. Sometimes they’d get “gunky,” but he hated it when I tried to wipe them with a damp rag or a cotton ball. I couldn’t find anything on the internet that was exactly like what he had. I was pretty sure his eyes weren’t itchy, as I’ve never seen him scratching or rubbing them with his paws.

Milo, ready for a day trip!
Milo, ready for a day trip.

Finally, to set my mind at ease, I made an appointment with the local animal hospital. The shocking diagnosis: Milo had been born without eyelids! What a stroke of luck, that I got the vet I did. This particular vet– I will call her Dr. K.– had just recently read an article about this condition, but she’d never actually met a cat without eyelids before. And who should magically appear in her office a short time later but Milo?! Talk about serendipity!

Dr. K. applied a water-soluble dye in Milo’s eyes (he was such a good boy during this procedure!) and, in the dark, shone a special light in them to look for any damage. The light caused the dye around his eyes to glow like neon yellow mascara. He looked like a punk rock kitty! Fortunately, there was nothing too bad to be found. Dr. K. pointed out a “black spot” in his right eye where an ulcer had been, but it had healed itself. What’s causing the problem, is there are certain hairs close to Milo’s eyes that poke him and scratch the corneas. The black “gunk” I was worried about, was Milo’s eyes trying to rid themselves of irritants. I asked her if he was in any pain, and she said yes, it’s like you or I getting a grain of sand in our eye. It hurts! But then, he’s never known anything different since the day he was born, so he is used to it. It certainly hasn’t held him back any. He is intelligent, curious, brave, and very loving. But surgery is definitely in Milo’s future. I’m still waiting on a breakdown of the different options and costs.

In the meantime, Dr. K. gave me a tube of lubricant to apply twice a day to Milo’s eyes, so they won’t be so dry and scratchy. After that, she said I can use any brand of “Artificial Tears” (made for humans) that are available in the drugstore.

What a brave little trooper Milo was today! The only time he cried or made a fuss was during the car ride. He wasn’t fazed by the dogs in the waiting room or by the needle when he got his rabies shot. He is really a great cat, and I am so proud of him! I will keep everyone updated on his progress.

He's always smiling, no matter what!
He’s always smiling, no matter what!

Mother’s Day With Cats

I have no human kids, but my cats are coddled and spoiled as much as any privileged child. So what if they shed, prefer sleeping on my folded bathroom towels as opposed to their cat beds, and favor shoelaces over fancy toys? I love them! And today, they have given me the greatest gift… No, they didn’t scratch out a heartwarming message in their litterbox. But they’re actually… getting along!!! They’re not tussling or swatting at each other. They’re not fighting over who gets to lounge in the living room window. They’re being nice to each other, even peacefully drinking from the same bowl of water! And of course, my camera phone is broken, so I can’t document any of it! You’ll have to trust me! Anyway, Happy Mother’s Day from Milo and Jinx!


Happy Birthday To Milo!

April is definitely a special month in my household. Both of my “babies” celebrate birthdays! My sweet black cat, Jinx, turned 5 on April 1. And today, April 15, my youngest kiddo, Milo, turns the Big 1!

I found Milo through Craigslist last year, when I was searching for a companion for Jinx. The young Army couple, who adopted him from the local animal shelter, felt guilty that they couldn’t spend much time with him. I had not set out to get a kitten. I thought an older male cat would be the best match for Jinx. But once Jessica sent me a pic of the lil’ guy, I was in love!

Milo on bed 001
          Milo when he was very small

  “We’re not sure if he can meow,” the uniformed husband apologized as they handed him to me.

My heart fluttered. Was this kitten mute?

“We’ve only heard him bark like a dog,” he elaborated.

I was intrigued. A cat that barks like a dog? How cool! However, I never did witness such a phenomenon. I don’t know why he never meowed for them. He was always quite vocal with me.

Milo’s original name was “Scat.” I gave him his new name because of the “M” mark on his forehead. Adorable though he was, he was a little tyrant when he first came to live here. He chased poor Jinx away with all the spitfire and chutzpa a skinny, tiny, 5-month-old kitten could muster. He countered my loving, gentle words with hisses and growls. I tried not to let it faze me, continuing to speak to him in a calm, cool voice. For starters, I kept him isolated in the spare bedroom in my apartment so he wouldn’t get overwhelmed by so many new surroundings.

On the third morning he was here, a transformation took place. When I opened the bedroom door, the tiny kitten came running to me. Astonished and delighted, I scooped him up in my arms. It was like a scene out of a movie. All that was missing was the theme from “Chariots of Fire” playing in the background.

Milo has grown into a big, brawny, happy, healthy cat. He still has his kitten-like playfulness. I used to get annoyed at how “clingy” he was, always underfoot if I were standing and perennially attached to my shoulder if I was sitting down. Now that he is more independent, I find myself missing the constant cat cuddles. As I type this, he is lying, docile as can be, at my feet. From my focal point, he looks like a tiger-striped slipper that’s missing its mate. So cute!

Happy birthday, Milo.

Milo now.
Milo now.