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Cold, scared, and alone in the dark, a black and white kitten sat next to a dirty dumpster at a condo complex in Danbury unaware why she was left there. Her face was wet from a thick goop secreting from her eyes and nose and each breath came out a strained wheeze.
Sadly, the abandonment of animals — know as “dumping” — is an act not as uncommon as one may think. Even in Connecticut, stories of domestic pets found in trash cans or left out in containers on people’s front steps still happen to this day.
Fortunately for this sick kitten, a man named Michael Davis, who lived nearby, saw her and rescued her from her bleak circumstances.
As he was heading to his car one night he thought he saw something in the distance by one of the trash bins. Unsure what it was, he drove to a store, but saw it was still there when he returned.
“I got a closer look and saw it was moving around,” Mr Davis said.
When he realized it was a small kitten, he immediately scooped her up. He searched for a mother cat or even siblings that may have been with the kitten, but saw no signs of others around.
Concerned the kitten had been out there for a long time, he decided to take her inside with him.
“I love cats. I used to have a cat of my own,” Mr Davis said. “I took her and brought her back to the house. I tried to clean all the goo out of her eyes, but it wasn’t working.”
The kitten stayed with him overnight and the next morning when he searched online for a place that could help, he learned about The Cat Clinic, an animal hospital in Danbury, not too far from where he lived.
After being examined, veterinarians found that the kitten had a severe upper respiratory infection that if left untreated could have been deadly. She was then put on medication to help get better.
The Cat Clinic works closely with The Animal Center of Newtown and reached out to the local, nonprofit animal organization to see if a foster could take the homeless kitten in.
Even knowing the kitten would need extra attention and care, The Animal Center did not hesitate to say yes. After hearing her story, they decided to name the kitten Lucky.
Lucky was only about seven weeks old when she came to Newtown resident Angela Thill’s home on May 10, just a day before Ms Thill’s birthday.
Ms Thill is one of The Animal Center’s most experienced fosters and has been helping take care of cats for them since the summer of 2014.
Throughout the years she has fostered a total of 24 cats, all of whom have come to her at different stages of health, including a cat named Catherine whose front leg had been amputated shortly before arriving to her home.
Never one to shy away from helping an animal in need, Ms Thill devotes her time and energy to giving each foster cat a positive, loving environment to help them on their journey to finding their forever home.
When Lucky came to Ms Thill, it was clear the kitten was in poor health. In addition to being diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection, Ms Thill said that “one of her eyes was bulging, they were clouded over. It was terrible.”
Not long after taking her in, one of Lucky’s eyes ruptured, causing the liquid in the eye to ooze out.
Ms Thill immediately rushed her to get emergency treatment at Newtown Veterinary Specialists, where the staff was able to alleviate her pain. It was determined that because of the rupture Lucky lost vision in her eye.
It was not long before Lucky’s next trip to the doctor took place. She was brought to Norwalk to see veterinary ophthalmologist Dr Clinton Doering at Eye Care for Animals. He examined her and explained that even though she had already lost sight in both eyes, there was the possibility of being able to save one eye’s vision with medications.
“She was on ointments, drops — you name it, I had it,” Ms Thill said of the intensive process to try to give Lucky at least one viable eye.
A lot of maintenance was involved as Ms Thill had to administer the oral and topical medications multiple times a day, every handful of hours.
The medication worked, but only for so long, and a few days later Lucky’s eye became swollen. Concerned, Ms Thill rushed Lucky to get urgent care.
This time when Lucky went to Newtown Veterinary Specialists the prognosis was bleak; Lucky would need to have both her eyes removed. The Cat Clinic’s Dr Barbara Fanning performed the surgery.
The Animal Center’s Adoption and Foster Program Manager Laura McHugh visited Lucky before her eye surgery and was shocked at what she saw, saying “In the ten years I’ve been working in rescue I have never seen an eye look so bad.”
Still, she added, “What amazed me, though, was Lucky’s spirit. Despite not being able to see and the discomfort she must have been in… she was still very active and as playful as any kitten.”
The decision to remove both of Lucky’s eyes alleviated any pain she may have had, as well as eliminated the medications, but left her with no vision.
Due to the operation and the stitches, Lucky had to wear an e-collar, a plastic hood that protects a surgical site. Ms Thill would watch as Lucky used the medical cone as a bumper to help her navigate throughout her home, now that she had no sight. It allowed her to not hit any of her surroundings.
Just when things began to get more routine, another unexpected problem occurred. One day when Ms Thill routinely checked on Lucky, she noticed the stitches in her eyes had ripped, and she immediately rushed her off to get emergency treatment once more.
When the incisions finally healed and the stitches could be removed, the e-collar came off and Lucky began walking into things, still getting used to life with no vision.
The rough road to recovery might have taken time, and a couple emergency trips to the vet, but today — now at about 3 months old — Lucky is “as good as gold,” according to her foster mom.
“Now that she has recovered,” Ms Thill said, “she is a normal cat, other than the fact that she is sight disabled.”
With a clean bill of health, Lucky no longer needs special medical follow-ups, as her eyes have healed and so has her upper respiratory infection.
When looking at Lucky today, it is nearly impossible to image the black and white kitten had lived such a difficult life.
“She has come such a long way. She really, really has,” Ms Thill said.
The adversities she has overcome have not slowed her down from living an active life full of kitten energy.
Like any other cat, she is curious and playful. She loves to have fun with the wide variety of toys Ms Thill has laid out for her, including strings. Even without a bell for noise, Lucky is able to assess where the string is when someone pulls it and then chases it around. Every pounce somehow lands strategically on point, giving the illusion she has sight.
She enjoys the company of people, too, and is always up for being pet and given treats. Sit down beside Lucky and she will gently lick a person’s hand to give kisses. Lucky’s all-around joyful demeanor is hard to ignore, especially since she now is hyper aware of smells and sounds.
She devotedly follows the sound of Ms Thill’s voice from room to room and will scamper after Ms Thill’s husband as his flip flops tap on the ground.
“Once in a while she bumps into things,” Ms Thill said. “She’s cautious to follow the walls.”
Lucky has even learned a variety of adventurous tasks like climbing the sofa and jumping off it, as well as going up and down stairs.
Ms Thill encourages her adventurous spirit, but always watches attentively and is by her side if she needs help.
With such an outgoing personality, friends that visit Ms Thill’s house sometimes do not even notice Lucky is blind at first, as the dark markings on her face tend to conceal her missing eyes.
The Best Home For Lucky
Knowing Lucky’s personality and needs, Ms Thill said, “She really needs to go to a special home.”
Lucky has been well socialized around Ms Thill’s dog Cooper, who allows Lucky to walk and climb all over him.
With other cats Lucky is sometimes more apprehensive. Ms Thill believes that being abandoned so young, Lucky did not get the opportunity to learn how to properly interact with other cats.
When Ms Thill went away recently and brought Lucky to a temporary foster home for a week, Lucky was able to learn the ropes from a special cat.
“Lucky was with Loki, who’s The Animal Center’s cat ambassador. Loki has a special gift of making cats like other cats,” said Ms Thill. “Loki would walk around and follow her.” By the end of their time together, they were able to be nose to nose.
Also, despite originally making slow progress with Ms Thill’s cats at home, Lucky recently had a breakthrough and is having positive interactions with her feline friends.
“In my opinion, the perfect family for her would be with a super friendly dog or a person who lives in a one-story building,” Ms Thill said.
Lucky’s story and the life-threatening challenges she has overcome make two things clear: not only is she deserving of her name, but it appears the family that adopts her will truly be the lucky ones.
For more information about how to take care of a blind pet, read “Providing Blind Pets With The Best Quality Of Life,” which was featured in The Newtown Bee’s April 14 print edition.