Born Blind

Pete Wedderburn
15th May 2020 - 3 min read

Midget is a tiny, fluffy, black and white kitten, with long white eyelashes and whiskers. But if you look closely at his picture, you might notice that it is difficult to make out all of the features of his face. You cannot see the normal bright beady eyes that you would expect in a kitten.

This is for a simple but sad reason, Midget was born without eyes. Midget has normal upper and lower eyelids, but there are just empty spaces where there should be eyeballs. He is blind, and he will always be blind. 

It can be difficult to decide the best course of action for a kitten like Midget. He will never be able to live the life of a typical cat. The world is full of hazards for a blind animal.

Learning To Cope With No Sight

Midget might learn to cope with his immediate surroundings indoors, but the outside world would be too dangerous. He would stumble into obstructions, he would fall off high surfaces, and he would not be able to see traffic approaching if he went near a road. He would not be able to see other animals. If he was attacked by predators, he would not have a hope of defending himself or even be able to run away. If Midget is to have any life at all, he will have to be kept indoors.

Because of this, many people would argue that Midget should not be allowed to live. He has been born with a severe physical handicap. If nature was to take its course, after weaning, his mother would leave him to cope by himself, and he would not survive. It could be argued that for his own sake, it would be kinder for humans to intervene, carrying out peaceful, easy euthanasia.

But is the “easy” answer the right thing to do? Midget has been born with strengths and weaknesses, like every human and every animal. It just so happens that his particular physical weakness is more dramatic than most.

Heightened Senses

At the same time, it is very likely that as he grows, he may develop strengths that other kittens do not have. He will not be aware that he is blind. As far as he is concerned, his existence is “normal”. In the absence of vision, his other senses are likely to develop more strongly than in other kittens. He is likely to grow up with highly sensitive hearing.

Midgets’ sense of touch will be unusually astute. His rich sense of smell and taste will be very important to him. His life will be very different from an average cat, but just because he is blind, his life will not be worse in every way. It could easily be argued that in some ways his life will be better. He will experience a richness of his other senses that other kittens are denied.

With this in mind, It would be different if his abnormality was going to cause him pain or ongoing ill health. I have seen animals with congenital abnormalities where euthanasia is definitely needed. Puppies with heart defects that cause them to have difficulty breathing by the age of ten weeks. Kittens with severe cleft palates that prevent them from eating normally.

There are many physical abnormalities that are treatable in humans, using the latest complex and expensive surgical techniques. Whereas in animals, this type of treatment is not feasible, and without treatment, life would be uncomfortable or painful. There are occasions in the animal world where euthanasia is the kinder option.

Midget is going to a caring home where he will be kept indoors and cherished: he’ll have a long, healthy, and happy life as a blind cat.

Facts

  • Animals, like humans, are sometimes born with physical abnormalities
  • Animals with problems like blindness and deafness can still enjoy life
  • Euthanasia is sometimes carried out if an animal will otherwise suffer