Here are two happy, playful and loving kittens. Can you see a difference between the two? Probably not. One of these kittens is only four months old and has already been through surgeries, medications and pain. However, as you can see, she is not letting any of those obstacles get in her way of living like a normal cat.
The grey kitten’s name is Braille. She was abandoned on the streets of Philadelphia when a kind woman brought her to the Animal Care and Control Team Philadelphia (ACCT). After being examined by the shelter, it was obvious that Braille couldn’t survive a night alone and would have to be euthanized. Sara Konnecke, 25, wouldn’t let that happen. She works at the shelter and is now one of Braille’s mommies along with Rowan alum Erin Signor, 22.
“I call her [Braille] my biggest success,” Signor said.
With one crusted eye that was too far gone for saving and the other expelling out of her face, Braille was lucky enough to have two compassionate human beings who didn’t doubt she could be saved. They had to begin treating her immediately with hot compresses, flea medication and more procedures. Braille had to get urgent surgery one night when her mommies were bathing her and she sneezed, causing her eye to dart across the room. There was blood everywhere. But, her mommies remained as calm as they could, kept her comfortable and were brave enough to wrap her up and take her to the animal hospital.
Following the surgery with a couple of setbacks including a recent development of seizures, she is a healthy and happy kitten. The first day she came home from her surgery she purred for the first time. That purr was as if Braille was thanking her mommies for giving her a chance at a life she knew she could live up to. A purr like Braille’s is the kind of moment why animal rescuers do what they do.
“She is kind of perfect,” Signor said. “She is a great animal and you don’t notice she has a disability until you look at her face.”
Braille was part of the estimated 70 million feral cats in the United States. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, “about twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.” Even people who are loving cat owners, but do not get their cats spayed or neutered are contributing to this problem. If their cat is outside and either gets pregnant or another cat pregnant, the number of strays increases, worsening the overpopulation problem that we have. Remember to spread awareness about getting all cats, including house cats, spayed or neutered.
This rescue story is so important because it shows the patience and healing it takes to rescue an animal. Signor and Konnecke were actually told that they should have put Braille down — not because she was sick, but because she was BLIND. We don’t put down blind people, so why should an animal be treated any differently?
She depends on her other senses to get around and trust me, she has no problem doing it. When I met Braille, I was amazed at how well she was getting around. It was dinner time when I walked into Signor and Konnecke’s apartment. Braille was the first one to run into the kitchen. Later in the evening, as all the other cats were relaxing on arm chairs and under tables making no sudden movement, Braille was approaching them ready to play. She definitely doesn’t need eyes to be able to annoy her fur-sisters.
Braille’s transformation is amazing and to think that she almost was put down is truly heart-wrenching because she is now a kitten who is a part of a family.