Written by Lindsay Linklater
Professional photography by Jackie Wernberg Photography
My dream for many years was to have the opportunity to give a Siamese cat a home. After my old boy, a Tabby-Siamese cat, crossed the Rainbow Bridge at the age of 24, I contacted a few Siamese Breeders in South Africa. I guess it was meant to be because, in a couple of weeks, I was at the airport fetching my young Seal Point kitten. He was more beautiful than the pictures sent to me by his breeder. A healthy, bright-eyed kitten!
A devastating turn of events
Around Bizzy’s second birthday, we noticed he was struggling with little things around the house. More and more he was calling us to rescue him after getting stuck on high places that should be easy for a cat to jump off. While running and playing he’d crash into a wall or bump into our dogs.
A veterinarian confirmed our worst fear: our Bizzy was blind!
We were devastated. How was this possible? Bizzy hadn’t suffered any trauma. He wasn’t sick. His eyes looked absolutely perfect. The vet explained that Bizzy has Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) – the first time we’d ever heard of it. We were heartbroken.
We dashed home to Google the condition, expecting to find loads of reading material on the subject. But, surprisingly, four-and-a-half years ago there was very little about PRA on the internet. So, I posted a picture of Bizzy on Instagram – the start of Bizzy’s PRA Awareness platforms; today he has close to 10,000 followers on Instagram (bizzibabs_pra_siamese) and is raising awareness for PRA pets and the need for genetic testing all over the world.
Blessed to have Bizzy
Bizzy has adjusted well to his blindness. He goes for walks on a leash. He doesn’t even mind if I move the furniture; all I have to do is tap the furniture as he walks past the chair or table moved and he remembers where it is for next time.
He’s king pin of the house… and the dog kennel (we now call it Bizzy’s summerhouse); the dogs aren’t allowed in it. He also sleeps in the dog beds, when he’s in the mood, and happily plays with the dogs as if he can see them. One of his dog friends, a rescue named AloeVera, featured in Happy Tails.
If you didn’t know he’s blind, you wouldn’t guess it.
We’re very blessed to have Bizzy in our heart and in our home.
Editor’s note: If you suspect that your pet is losing their sight for any reason, consult with your vet. Identifying the cause is crucial, and even if it turns out to be PRA and thus incurable, they can advise you on the best course forward to ensure your beloved furry friend has a good quality of life. Your pet can still have many happy years ahead with you.