Homeless Kitten Born without Eyelids Gets Sight-Saving Surgery

BOSTON, Dec. 17, 2014 – A homeless kitten born without upper eyelids is seeing with new eyes after successful surgery at Angell Animal Medical Center, the MSPCA-Angell announced today.

“Phil,” as the three-month-old kitten has come to be called by MSPCA staffers, is recovering at the organization’s Boston adoption center, from where he—along with his best friend, a fellow cat named “Vixen”—will be placed for adoption in the coming weeks.

Painful Birth Defect
The MSPCA’s Boston adoption center manager, Alyssa Krieger, first came across Phil and Vixen at the Boston Animal Control shelter in Roslindale on Nov. 24.  “I was immediately struck by Phil’s personality, in addition to the unusual situation surrounding his yes,” she said.  “Even though his lack of eyelids caused painful irritation, he was still a typical and playful kitten.  We were eager to get him back to Angell where we knew he could get the operating he needed to save his sight.”

Krieger agreed to take both Phil and his friend back to the MSPCA, after which she booked a consultation with Dr. Martin Coster of the Angell Ophthalmology team.

Dr. Coster agreed to perform surgery to repair the condition, known as agenesis, by way of a novel operation.  “A cat’s upper eyelid is very similar in form and function to the tissue in their lip,” he said.  “By taking some tissue from Phil’s lip and attaching it to the muscles that enable him to blink, we can, in effect, reconstruct his missing eyelids.”

Without the surgery, constant irritation brought on by dry and itchy eyes could lead to ulceration and, eventually, complete blindness.

Phil is prepped for his sight-saving surgery at Angell Animal Medical Center (credit: MSPCA-Angell)

Phil is prepped for his sight-saving surgery at Angell Animal Medical Center (credit: MSPCA-Angell)

Dr. Coster performed the surgery on Dec. 9 and is encouraged by how well the procedure had gone.  “I expect Phil to recover completely and there’s no reason to believe he won’t have a long and healthy life—with the pain and discomfort of his condition finally resolved.”

Phil’s surgery was paid for through Spike’s Fund, which provides emergency medical treatment for homeless animals living in the MSPCA’s Boston adoption center.  Readers who wish to donate to Spike’s Fund may do so by clicking here.

Phil’s Future Looks Very Bright Indeed

Krieger is intent on placing both cats into the same home, after Dr. Coster deems Phil ready to leave the adoption center.  “They are the best of friends and, especially at this delicate stage of Phil’s recovery, we want to do all we can to keep the two of them together.”

One week after surgery and Phil is evaluated by Dr. Coster, who is now "99 percent certain his sight is forever safeguarded." (credit MSPCA-Angell)

One week after surgery and Phil is evaluated by Dr. Coster, who is now “99 percent certain his sight is forever safeguarded.” (credit MSPCA-Angell)

Anyone interested in adopting the pair can for more information about the adoption process.

For more information about Angell Animal Medical Center’s Ophthalmology (and other) specialty services readers may click here.




Angell Animal Medical Center cares for more than 50,000 animals a year and is one of the most acclaimed veterinary practices in the country. Angell has 67 doctors and an experienced support staff who work as a team to ensure high quality general wellness, emergency and specialty care. With 31 board-certified specialists and technology that includes an MRI specifically designed for animals, Angell is committed to providing a broad range of specialized expertise and experience, but delivers this care with one-on-one compassion that animals and their owners deserve. Angell is open for emergencies 24 hours of every day of the year, and offers night and weekend appointments with our specialty services.

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