Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

16th Nov, 2016

Written and photographed by Hilette Hatting

Something gently brushes against your leg and you hear a tiny little voice. Suddenly you see a dash of ginger and white and off she goes again chasing the wind. This is little Claire. 

Her story began as a tiny seven-week-old kitten. She was found in an informal settlement by a Good Samaritan and taken to the veterinary clinic in town. She had a bad case of snuffles and her eyes weren’t properly developed; therefore, she was unable to see. 

The receptionist at this particular veterinary clinic always phones Chantal Rushmer when a case like this comes in, as Chantal is known as the local Animal Angel in the small town of Jeffreys Bay. Chantal went to see dear Claire and immediately fell in love. She took her home and decided to foster her and nurture her back to good health so that she’d stand a chance of adoption. 

As it stands today, Claire is a foster failure of note and Chantal can no longer imagine her life without this breath of fresh air in the house. What Claire lacks in sight, she makes up for in energy and love. 

Claire was initially taken to a specialist since Chantal noticed ‘jelly-like’ objects in the areas where her eyes were supposed to be. It appeared that Claire had micropthalmia – a congenital eye condition in which the eyeballs are underdeveloped. What Chantal had noticed was remaining eye tissue, and the specialist agreed that it would need to be removed. The operation was successful and Claire recovered nicely. Chantal sometimes has to clean the little holes now as they are not closed completely, but this poses no harm to Claire and will be corrected with another operation later on.

Claire is loving, friendly and, above all, totally adorable! Her whiskers are always facing forward as if to feel where she is going and her paws are regularly in the air, but she never misses the litter tray and never bumps into things. She can even catch flies. She is so comfortable with not being able to see that people don’t even believe that she has no eyes. 

Claire quickly became best friends with Xena, who is also a rescue and suffers from radial hypoplasia (unusually short, twisted forelegs), and the two are inseparable. She integrated perfectly into a multi-cat household with no issues and never fights with anyone. Claire constantly wants to be near you and lick you and, if she gets the opportunity, to get close to your face – you will be covered in wet kisses. Her favourite place to sleep is between Chantal and her husband because, not only does she always know where she is, but she can also be close to the people who rescued her and who she loves the most.