Our Princess has been well since her poisoning scare last year. She is lithe, agile and looks and acts far younger than her 14 years. However, for as long as we have had her, she has had different coloured eyes. I was told by her previous family, who had had both our cats since kittenhood, that the Princess had been scratched by an adult cat when she was very young and the eye was permanently scarred as a result.
We have never had cause to believe that her sight was affected. She is a talented climber, a skilful hunter and seems to have much better co-ordination than her sister, who we call the Calamity Cat for a reason. Most of the time, we don’t even notice the difference in colour any more and it is always a surprise when visitors comment on it. “Oh yes,” we say. “They are different, aren’t they? We’d forgotten”. It is how some of our friends and family tell the cats apart, as they are physically very similar although totally different in temperament.
So it took us a while to realise that, in recent weeks, the scarred eye has been changing. It has slowly got darker and cloudier and slowly the colour has disappeared altogether, as her pupil seems to be permanently dilated. Her behaviour hasn’t changed at all – she is still the Princess that we know and love, demanding tea al fresco when the sun shines, stalking the birds in the garden and the mice in the hedgerow and telling us in no uncertain terms when it is bedtime and she requires our presence to warm the bed for her before she joins us. She is as sure-footed as ever but it seemed sensible to ask the vet to look her over. I wondered if she was developing a cataract but the vet had a very different diagnosis.
Firstly, she swiftly disabused us of our faith in the Princess’s vision. “She can’t see anything from that eye”, she told us. She did agree with us, though, that it wasn’t causing her any obvious pain or discomfort. Her working hypothesis was glaucoma, possibly caused by a slipped lens but, as she wasn’t sure, she recommended we be referred to an ophthalmic specialist in Dewsbury.
We returned home chastened and concerned, but the Princess led by example. The day after she had seen our vet, she was playing outside, full of the joys of spring: jumping out at us as we passed and then tearing up the garden like a mad thing when she wanted us to chase her back. The next thing we knew, she shot up the apple tree, surveying her kingdom from the top before bounding down again to buzz her sister, who was wandering innocently up through the orchard to see what we were up to. Poor Calamity – the Princess chased her all the way back down, through the gate to the flower garden and back to the house. Just because she could.
The worst case scenario is that our beautiful girl will lose her eye. If the specialist can save it without causing her too much trauma then we will be happy, but our priority is to keep our Princess comfortable and pain-free and prevent any damage spreading. If her eye is the price to be paid then we will pay it willingly. As her sight is apparently already gone on that side with no obvious effect on her behaviour, we are starting to think that perhaps the original injury as a kitten damaged her vision more than we had originally thought. It is possible that she has been blind in that eye for most of her life and so there is no adjustment for her to make. We are the ones who will need to adjust and I’m sure we will. Our main concern is the trauma of an operation at her age but we can discuss that with the specialist (who knew that veterinary ophthalmologists even existed?) when we see him.
In the meantime, we will all continue to enjoy her antics!
Please note that all photos in this post are older ones, not showing her eye as it is now (just in case any reader is a little squeamish about these things) so you may have seen some of them before. This is one of my favourites – just chillin’ …