Alley Animals - Adopted!
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At the tender age of (approximately) 8 weeks, Dijon's surviving one minute to the next in the alleys hinged on a level of bravery few of us comprehend.

Why was he sitting in the middle of the alley? He didn’t run from the car coming toward him, although he may have recognized the sound of the alley car’s engine, he was old enough to know he should move out of its way. Not until he heard Dee’s footsteps coming close did he take off, up the alley and into an overgrown yard he scampered.

He negotiated the terrain expertly and Dee’s first thought was that the kitten was lost to her in the brush of the unkempt yard. The discarded sofa caught her eye. “This would be a good hiding place for a frightened kitten,” Dee was thinking as she examined the piece of furniture; it would have been perfect except for the little orange tail curling out of the tear in the fabric just below the sofa’s arm. The telltale tail.

The opening was just big enough for Dee to get her hand in and grab the kitten; she put him on a towel with some food in a carrier where he sat quietly while Dee and her partner finished their night’s work.

Dijon’s example teaches us what these animals endure on the streets. He was a blind kitten, forced to learn the geography of his environment (what little of it he dared explore), ill-equipped to find food or water, and no one to assist him in escaping the dangers of street life that eventually take the lives of animals who possess all five senses and quickly strike down the disadvantaged.

Yet he persisted in the fight for his life, a fight he would soon have lost had not one of us been in the right place at the right time to catch sight of the orange kitten sitting in the middle of the alley.

The veterinarian determined that neither of his eyes would ever bring him the light of day and that suturing shut the lids was the best option. So he had the surgery (at the time of his neutering) and went to recuperate in foster care with Jeanne and Geoff, who decided Dijon had been through enough. They removed him from the Up For Adoption list and welcomed him as a permanent resident in their home.

Dijon after surgery to suture shut his eye lids.
A rare exception, Dijon beat the odds against a blind animal surviving the streets.

A Follow-Up:

The procedure performed on Dijon drew a response of concern from some of our readers, a response needing to be addressed.

First, Dijon's complete and permanent blindness was never in question. Three veterinarians, one an eye specialist, examined our little boy and all three concluded that Dijon had lived most - if not all - of his short life blind, that his eyes deteriorated well beyond any possibility of offering him even the dimmest vision.

Second, neither eyes' lids could blink. This crucial factor meant his eyes would dry out as well as remain vulnerable to dust, dirt and other debris.

Third, to leave his eyes unprotected was to invite infection and injury. Dijon had to learn the unfamiliar terrain of his new home and bumping into things would be a natural part of the learning process. Although Jeanie and Geoff (Dijon's care givers) made the surroundings as hazard-free as possible, "kittens will be kittens" - even blindness does not keep a happy youngster from exploring or playing and Dijon might eventually puncture one or both exposed eyes.

Suturing shut a kitten's eyelids might seem a drastic measure, but three doctors agreed this was the best course to follow, the only course to follow for optimal safety and hygiene. The procedure was performed by an eye specialist. From the start, Dijon's well-being remained everyone's top priority.

I would note the story of Lamb, another kitten with badly infected eyes, but unlike Dijon, Lamb could blink - a simple yet critical fact. No one knows with absolute certainty, but Lamb might detect the tinest bit of light and shadow. As long as her eyes may open a window (however imperfect) onto her world, we would not entertain for a moment taking that away from her by sewing shut the eyelids.

Animals who survive the torment of life on the streets receive our highest respect. We do our best for them. Dijon and Lamb now live in great homes where they're growing up - an opportunity the streets would have never provided.


Note: Unless otherwise noted, all photos on this page are by Lillian Leslie

Webmaster: Debbie Perry