When Faithful Friends Animal Society found themselves in possession of three cats with severe eye problems – 7-year-old Helen and 10-week-old brothers, Bruce and Willis – the organization was unsure of their next move. Helen, afflicted with glaucoma, suffered from bulging eyes, resulting in a lack of balance and increasing discomfort; Bruce and Willis, on the other hand, had infected, protruding eyes. To alleviate the pain of all three, and allow them the chance at normal lives, the Wilmington, Del., organization elected to remove the eyes of the entire trio. Surprisingly, that move turned out to be the easy part of the plan, as the aftermath is what caused problems for the felines.
“Helen was so sweet but so distressed in her cat kennel,” Faithful Friends volunteer and experienced foster, Sherry Stewart, told The Huffington Post. “I knew I could at least give her a temporary place to call home where she could recover and learn how to transition to life without sight.” Once Stewart had made up her mind regarding Helen, she decided to add Bruce and Willis to her foster family. The kittens, though younger than Helen, had both experienced eye removal surgeries that were quite complicated, leaving them looking “terrible compared to Helen.”
Stewart’s heart went out to them, so home with her they went. With the three cats in tow, Stewart set up a large playpen in the home she shares with her two rescue pit bulls, Alfie and Frankie, with the hopes of helping them all to adjust to their new impairment. Alfie, rescued in 2012 when he was found locked in a shed and suffering from starvation, was taken in by Stewart shortly before he was scheduled to be euthanized.
“I picked up Alfie and I put him in the back seat of my car with my daughter,” Stewart said. “He looked up at her, gave her a kiss and we knew he was ours.” Since then, Alfie has been eager to help others – becoming a certified pet therapy dog as a means of paying it forward. Frankie, another rescue, described as being “a little over the top with his affection” by Stewart, rounds out the duo.
Since arriving at Stewart’s home, the cats have thrived under the care of their canine parents – healing and building confidence with each interaction they share with the nurturing dogs.
“They kind of act like surrogate moms,” Stewart said. “They seemed to have sensed they need a little extra TLC.” Bruce, the smallest of the brothers, likes to curl up on Alfie’s back for catnaps throughout the day; and Willis, while a bit of a shy fellow in the beginning, has truly flourished in his foster home.
“He doesn’t act distressed and doesn’t have any trouble finding things,” Stewart said. “He can even jump into my bed now.” Oddly enough, it is the eldest of the three, seven-year-old Helen, who has adjusted to her impairment the most successfully.
The little lady is capable of moving quickly up and down the stairs, and is very aware of the placement of things in her dwelling. Though Alfie and Frankie are credited as being helpful in Helen’s recovery; Stewart credits another foster cat named Hubbell as being Helen’s true savior.
“Helen was nervous with him at first, but he was persistent and finally won her over,” Stewart said. “They would eat, play and take naps together. In a short period of time, they really formed a very special relationship.”
Hubbell has since been adopted, but Helen, Bruce, and Willis are still awaiting loving homes; however, given the trauma experienced by Bruce and Willis early in life, the two must be adopted as a pair. For further information regarding adoption visit Faithful Friends.
Clearly love knows no boundaries when it comes to species.