COCC professor gives blind cats a new outlook

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Raimie Hedman
The Broadside

Pia and ZeeDee seem to be ordinary cats, except for the noticeable fact they’re both missing their right eye – but Donna Raymond insists that’s just an eerie coincidence.

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Raymond, a math professor at Central Oregon Community College, has a long history of helping animals. For eleven years, she volunteered nearly every day at an animal shelter in Albuquerque, New Mexico, cleaning kennels and helping to screen foster families.

“I often thought I should have been a vet,” said Raymond, “but I love my teaching job.” When Raymond became a parent, she gave up volunteering.

“My volunteer work was important to me,” she explained, “but once you have kids you can’t do it any more.”

Today, most of Raymond’s spare time is spent with her three children, but she has discovered a way to help needy animals without leaving the house: by adopting special needs animals like Pia and ZeeDee.

Raymond found Pia at the Humane Society of Central Oregon a year and a half ago. Born without retinas, Pia is completely blind. Raymond insists that she’s no more trouble than any other cat, aside from the occasional crash at night, when Pia stumbles into something.

Six months after Pia was adopted, Raymond decided that she needed a friend and playmate, so she turned to Cat Rescue, Adoption & Foster Team (CRAFT), a local cat shelter owned by Bonnie Baker. But Raymond didn’t want just any companion for Pia. “I didn’t want to get a seeing cat,” she said, “because it wouldn’t be fair.”

CRAFT introduced Raymond to Hope, a blind kitten who was also missing her right eye. Unfortunately, it was soon discovered that Hope’s blindness was caused by a brain tumor, and she was euthanized after only one month with Raymond.

“Then we saw an ad about ZeeDee,” said Raymond. Another CRAFT rescue, ZeeDee had been attacked and mauled by an unknown animal while defending her kittens. The entire litter was lost, and ZeeDee barely survived. Raymond recalls that when the wounded cat was first brought to CRAFT, she was in such critical condition that “two vets wouldn’t even look at her.”

CRAFT persisted, and when ZeeDee was finally stabilized, she was a scant four pounds, dehydrated, unable
to walk, had one of her eyes removed and was blind in the other. But after receiving plenty of food and care from Raymond, ZeeDee fully recovered.

Today, both blind cats are healthy and happy. As Raymond played with them on the floor, her partner, CIS
Professor Peter Casey, admitted that he’s never done anything like this before.

“I’m new to this. Donna’s the rescue queen,” said Casey.

Despite his inexperience, Raymond said that both cats prefer Casey, who himself explained, “I always thought maybe it’s the voice. It’s deeper and different.”

Raymond doesn’t have immediate plans to rescue additional cats; two is enough for now. But she said that
when the time comes to do it again, she will look for cats with special needs, because she feels they are as loyal as their able-bodied counterparts, and she has a soft spot for adopting them.

“It’s part of my life forever,” said Raymond.

You can contact Raimie Hedman at rhedman@cocc.edu

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