I found myself in a strange predicament this past fall with my cat Jac. Due to chronic disease Jac, my 18 year old diabetic cat, had an eye removed in the spring and in the fall his second eye started to deteriorate. Unfortunately we couldn’t get control of this eye and it was recommended to remove it. I knew this was the best plan for him but I couldn’t get over the fact that I would be taking away his only eye! Plus he was older, how would he handle another surgery? How would he manage without any eyes? Wouldn’t he miss it?
I discussed this with my family, friends and colleagues and I knew in my heart what to do. He would do best without this diseased eye. He wouldn’t be in pain anymore, plus, he couldn’t see out of it anyways! It would also mean that I didn’t have to hold him down and put multiple different eye medications in his eye every time I saw him.
So needless to say when the surgery day came I was very nervous. Not only about removing the eye but how my old man would do under anesthetic. I didn’t have to worry, everything went great! The surgery went well, he did great under anesthetic and recovered beautifully. By the next day he was walking around the house, although he was bumping into things but was still wanting to move around. Within two weeks he was walking up and down the stairs to his food and litter box without issue. Now he is able to find me wherever I am in the house and has no difficulty jumping on and off of the couch without my assistance. It’s incredible to see how much better he’s doing without those diseased eyes. He’s more active, more affectionate and has no issue navigating around the house. Plus, our relationship is better because I’m not spending every interaction with him medicating his eyes.
What to take away from this story is that our pets are not people. We put human emotion and characteristics on our pets all the time not realizing that it can hinder how we treat them. This is called anthropomorphism and we are all guilty of it! I was. But Jac didn’t miss his eyes, he woke up and accepted he couldn’t see and just went on with life. He is now better than he’s been in a very long time. I’ll admit that my cat is way more resilient than me!
I’m so grateful to still have Jac in my life and I’m thankful we did the surgery. If I had let my emotions get in the way of treating him he would have suffered.
Written by: Dr. Ashley Woo, DVM