Kelowna veterinarian Dr. Ellen Nicklassen with one of two kittens which had surgery by an ophthalmologist to create eyelids. (Submitted)

Kelowna veterinarian Dr. Ellen Nicklassen with one of two kittens which had surgery by an ophthalmologist to create eyelids. (Submitted)

Okanagan kittens that were nearly crushed are almost ready for adoption

Two feral kittens are recovery following complicated eye surgery

Brother and sister feral kittens rescued from near death last October are on the mend following recent complicated eye surgery.

Spot and Marble were part of a litter of five kittens found at a Kelowna waste facility late last year, where they just barely avoided being crushed by a machine after an employee heard their cries.

Taken into care by AlleyCATS Alliance feline rescue group, they found the pair were suffering from a congenital eye defect, having almost no eyelids. That resulted in the fur coming in direct contact with the eyes, an incredibly irritating condition.

READ ALSO: Okanagan rescued kittens now in desperate need of eye surgery

Requiring surgery by an animal eye specialist, the organization was looking at a bill in the thousands of dollars. According to AlleyCATS president Sue Beagle, there was never a thought of not doing whatever could be done for the kittens and the group set out on a dedicated fundraising drive.

READ ALSO: Battling the feral feline problem in the South Okanagan

“When you have a little batch of kittens that were already rescued from somewhere like they were and then they end up having problems after you’ve gotten so attached to them, bottle feeding them, it’s pretty hard to say, ‘well, they’re not perfect they need to be euthanized,’” said Beagle. “But, we couldn’t let them live the way they were.”

During that time Dr. Ellen Nicklassen of the Kelowna Veterinary Hospital did whatever she could to alleviate the irritation as possible.

Surgically untreated the kittens faced the possibility of losing their sight.

READ ALSO: Okanagan feline foster families helping AlleyCATS

Enter Dr. Marnie Ford, a veterinary ophthalmologist and founder of the Pacific Eye Specialty Services Clinic a mobile ophthalmology practice working throughout the Lower Mainland, Okanagan and Vancouver Island.

Late last month she came to the Kelowna Veterinary Hospital where she performed the delicate surgery on the kittens over a two-day period.

“They (kittens) don’t have eyelids on the top. The top two-thirds is missing, so you basically have to rebuild it. They’re so tiny it’s hard to do,” said Dr. Ford, who estimates it takes about 90-minutes per cat “if all goes well.”

According to Beagle, coming up to their one-month check by Dr. Ford this Saturday, it is so far, so good.

“They’re doing very well, running around and playing. These cats are super affectionate and laid back,” she said about the felines who are still living with their original foster family. “After their final checkup Saturday we will start advertising them for adoption, they do have to go together though.”

It is possible they could require additional surgery and thanks to the kind donations by the public, including a Vancouver author, a contingency fund is now in place should further work be necessary.

And Dr. Ford had nothing but praise for the work of AlleyCATS, particularly in the case of these two very lucky felines.

“It’s incredible they (AlleyCATS) take the effort to do that. Even with the discounts it’s not the cheapest surgery in the world and let’s face it, it’s not like there’s a shortage of cats,” said Dr. Ford. “So the fact they’re willing to do this for these two little pumpkins is pretty awesome.”


 

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Spot following the surgery to create eyelids he had been missing since birth. (Submitted)

Spot following the surgery to create eyelids he had been missing since birth. (Submitted)

Post surgery, Spot and Marble, relax in spite of their protective cones. (Submitted)

Post surgery, Spot and Marble, relax in spite of their protective cones. (Submitted)