Ciega is a marbled domestic Bengal cat. She was born in 2004 and arrived at the sanctuary in 2006.
As far as phone calls go, the one I received years ago didn’t seem all that strange at the time. Another rescue group had been contacted by a private owner. He was having trouble with his Bengal cat not using the litter box consistently. We get these calls all the time since it’s such a common complaint about hybrid wild cats.
He wanted to surrender her. And one more thing. There seemed to be a problem with her eyesight, too.
I drove to pick up the cat, agreeing we’d take her in. On the way, I called our vet to give a heads up this cat might have some eye issues we’d have to address.
What I found when I arrived was rather shocking. This cat didn’t have poor eyesight. This cat appeared to have no eyes at all!
Life at the Sanctuary
From the minute I brought Ciega back to The Wildcat Sanctuary, she showed what a force she’d be. When I opened her crate, she began mapping her new world, venturing out a set distance, and returning to her crate. Then, she’d go a bit farther and return.
She did this over and over again, learning her way around so quickly.
It turns out Ciega was born with a birth defect known as microphthalmia. In this condition, one or both eyeballs are abnormally small. In some affected individuals like Ciega, the eyeball is so small it couldn’t be seen. But, even in these cases, some remaining eye tissue is generally present.
Ciega had surgery to close the open sockets where her eyes should have been. This eased the discomfort she experienced from having weeping eye sockets and lessened the chance for bacterial infections. Being the trooper she is, Ciega recovered well from her surgery.
Today in 2018, Ciega’s 13 and continues to astound anyone who sees her. Watching her play, it’s hard to remember this cat has no eyes!
You’ll find her on the highest perch in her bungalow, jumping up to nap on high platforms in her outside habitat, playing on top of caves, interacting with her other bungalow mates – just about anything a sighted cat would be doing.
Ciega may mean blind in Spanish, but don’t tell her that. She won’t know what you’re talking about!