Earlier this year, the NAWT Clacton centre received a distraught telephone call from a family whose young autistic son had accidentally injured their kitten’s eye.
Absolutely beside herself, the owner of the kitten and its sibling was devastated at what had happened and far too emotional to drive, so the Clacton cattery team drove over straight away to help.
Both kittens, Autumn and Pumpkin, were relinquished to NAWT for urgent veterinary care and rehabilitation. As they travelled to the centre, they were clearly very frightened and clung to one another as if their lives depended on it.
Poor Pumpkin was suffering with a particularly sore and bloodshot eye and was rushed straight into a veterinary assessment. The initial assessment suggested that Pumpkin had a blood clot to the interior chamber of his eye, which would usually heal on its own, but needed to be closely monitored.
At just six weeks old, the trauma from their ordeal had left both kittens incredibly frightened. Whilst they had each other for comfort, it was quickly decided they’d still require round-the-clock care. So Manager Lizzie took them home to monitor their recovery overnight.
Sadly, a few days later, Pumpkin’s eye wasn’t improving and another veterinary assessment confirmed that it had ruptured. There was nothing more they could do to save the eye, so a procedure was scheduled to remove it.
Over the next two months, Lizzie spent every evening nursing Pumpkin, administering eye drops and ensuring he recovered quickly from his surgery.
By introducing Pumpkin and Autumn to her 7-year-old daughter Grace, and her 10-year-old Labrador Rosie, Lizzie was able to begin socialising the kittens, helping them to rebuild the trust they had lost in humans.
Grace and Rosie are seasoned foster carers thanks to Lizzie, so they both knew to be incredibly gentle and calm with the kittens, which gradually grew the kitten’s confidence allowing their personalities to shine.
Soon Pumpkin began demonstrating that the loss of one eye wasn’t going to slow him down! He very quickly became the more boisterous of the two siblings, and started getting into all kinds of mischief as he learnt to climb, and discovered where all the best foods were kept!
Autumn, on the other hand, remained a little more reserved. Her faith wasn’t going to be restored quite so easily; nursing her brother through his injuries had left her with some painful memories, and she wouldn’t forget them in a hurry.
Lizzie gave Autumn time and space. She explained:
“Whilst you might expect Pumpkin to be the more frightened of the two, due to his injuries, you just never know how a trauma will affect each individual animal.
Like humans, they each have their own personalities and their own thoughts and fears. So you have to understand what their body language is telling you and quickly adapt to their individual needs.
Autumn wanted human company but on her own terms, and that was fine. I left her to choose the distance between us, making sure she never felt any pressure to do something she wasn’t comfortable with.
Gradually she got into the habit of sitting half on and half off my laptop as I worked… It wasn’t quite a lap cuddle but it was progress, and that was fantastic. Albeit not the most convenient of seats for me to have a productive day on the computer!”
Pumpkin and Autumn grew and grew in confidence during their time with Lizzie and eventually even Autumn realised how much she enjoyed a good cuddle. They eventually returned to the centre in order to be rehomed together to a loving family, where there was already a resident dog and five chickens!
Whilst Pumpkins eye will never be returned, he doesn’t seem to mind – he is happy and confident now, and so is his sister. They are happy and they are loved.
Will you sponsor an animal carer like Lizzie for kittens like Pumpkin and Autumn?
By giving £5 today, you can give an injured and traumatised kitten a companion who will never give up on them.
Please help the animals still waiting.