Two kittens found in a drainage pipe at a construction site in Dorchester who were born without eyelids are headed for surgery to repair their birth defects.
A good Samaritan brought Anna and Elsa to the MSPCA in late August. They were scared, filthy and emaciated, but the vets at the MSPCA’s Angell Animal Medical Center found that both cats were born without upper eyelids. This is a rare condition called Agenesis, and it renders cats unable to blink or moisten their dry, irritated eyes. If untreated, the condition leads to blindness.
Ophthalmologist Dr. Martin Coster is set to remove and transplant tissue from their lower lips to the muscle that controls their ability to blink and build them new eyelids.
"This condition is not common at all," Coster said. "Over the last 8-9 years two cases at most per year. It's a birth defect where they have a lack of development during the maturation of the fetus. It's usually it is symmetrical. Any species could potentially get this condition, but I have only seen it in cats and one dog in my career."
He performed the same surgery last December on Phil, a homeless cat whose story caught the eyes of the world.
The kittens sleep with their eyes semi-open and will have to relearn how to blink once the surgery is over. Each eye takes about an hour to work on.
"What I find remarkable is they still are playful and happy," Coster said. "This condition doesn’t seem to be preventing them from enjoying life even if it is irritating. You wouldn’t see it affecting them given their behaviors and attitudes."
The kittens are going in for a pre-surgery screening with Dr. Coster on Thursday. The procedure will likely cost about $2,000 and the MSPCA is asking folks to help out with the expenses by donating at www.mspca.org/dorchesterkittens. They will be ready for adoption six to eight weeks after the operation.
"If your pet is suffering from an eye conditions, we are specialists and this is our job," Coster said. "They do not need to suffer."