the cat without a face.
Melissa Smith’s 4-year-old cat loves to eat, likes to groom animal
and human friends alike, and is as curious as they come. But Chase, named
for the vet clinic that saved her life, is definitely not like most felines:
She’s missing most of her face.
In 2005, Smith was working as a veterinary assistant at the Chevy Chase
Animal Clinic in Lexington, Ky., when a man brought in an injured kitten
that had likely been hit by a car. The kitten’s face was crushed,
and a back leg was so damaged it had to be amputated. The clinic helped
with some surgeries – via visits to the University of Tennessee – but
there was no replacing the cat’s eyelids. Tissue on the cat’s
face also “sloughed off” due to the trauma, leaving Chase
looking much like a burn victim.
But the resilient cat went home with Smith at nights and weekends, and
roamed the clinic during the day. About two years ago, when Smith married
and moved to Omaha, Neb., she took Chase along. “I wanted to,” she
says. “She was my cat.” The 28-year-old has kept well-wishers – who
sent letters and donations Chase’s way while she was recovering – updated
on the cat’s progress via Facebook (she has more than 750 fans)
and a blog with pictures that are at once ordinary and arresting.
Smith, who’s married to an Air Force captain, has a 3-month-old
son and lives with two Italian greyhounds and another cat who’s “good
friends” with Chase. Smith keeps Chase inside, and administers
regular drops to keep her exposed eyes moist. Even so, “she has
really good vision.” Chase is missing a face, but little else: “She’s
just the sweetest cat,” says Smith. Chase was jealous of the baby
at first, but now “wants to snuggle,” says Smith. “I
think he’s growing on her.”
The images of Chase’s face can be quite startling. You can see
the photos on her blog Daily
Tails of Chase.