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The Premier Online Magazine devoted
to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

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Pepper’s Story

(Medical Case History of an Eye Injury)

This is the medical case history of a brown tabby Exotic kitten name Arrow’s Sargent Pepper… just “Pepper” to his friends. Born in early July, he was less than two months old when he injured his eye. Pepper and his litter-sister were living the good life of much-loved kittens in my home as part of the family. The morning of the “incident”, they were eating and playing and happy and content as only kittens can be. Just before dinner, it was my routine to let the kittens join the family on the enclosed porch to have dinner and watch the people go by. That’s when I first noticed that Pepper’s eye appeared cloudy and slightly swollen. What followed was a horror story I hope never to live through again. 


While we were eating I first noticed Pepper’s eye was a bit cloudy and he seemed to be favoring it. I put ointment in it and after doing the dishes, I checked on him again. He was in his bed in the front hall. He would not come to me. I picked him up and saw something was wrong with his eye.

He was born on July 3rd and has been healthy every minute up until now. I have treated Eye Ulcers before but I have never seen anything like this before. His eye was not cloudy but was bloody-looking underneath the cornea. It was swollen 3 times its normal size. I called and spoke with my vet. I had everything to treat the problem, per his instructions. I kept the eye moisturized with Vitamin A and treated the other eye in case (just in case). It was itchy because he wanted to rub it, so I just carried him around everywhere with me… and yes… to the potty too.

Initial injury
Close-up of the eye 12 hours after the initial injury.
Another closeup view.


I made an appointment for the morning with my regular vet who is excellent at treating eye problems. I was ready to take Pepper when I got a call saying the vet had a family emergency and couldn’t make it. It was too late to make an appointment at another vet’s as it was Saturday — and of course it was a long weekend and the vets were closed on Monday too. I made an appointment with an eye specialist for Tuesday.

My vet thought it is due to a trauma, and that the kitten has scratched the surface slightly so we can’t use steroids. At his suggestion I treated it with  a triple antibiotic ointment. The eye was swollen larger but he is not scratching at it while I keep it moisturized with Vitamin A, medicated ointment or the moisture drops. His eye looked like it has a cloudy cover over the eye but I can see the bloody area inside where something possibly hurt the eye. I am so careful with the kittens, and there is nothing where they were playing that I can think might have caused an injury. He is eating and playing as normal and is not running a fever. There is just no way that I can see how he hurt his eye.


I am going out of my mind! Pepper’s eye was worse not better. Why do these things always happen on a weekend? And why does it have to have happened when it is a long weekend too?

The eye just before surgery when it looked its absolute worse.


Pepper went to the specialist first thing this morning and immediately went into surgery to have his eye removed. 

Right after Surgery

I have him home now. I picked him up at 3:00 this afternoon. The minute he saw me, he started purring and making little muffins… and remember, this is a kitten that was only 2 months old today. What a trooper! I drove and my hubby held him. We brought his sister Fiesta with us in case he needed her for company. He didn’t. He laid in Kenny’s lap on his back making muffins and purring… and purring… while Fiesta sat on top of my seat and watched the cars.

We carried him in to the front hall and put him down. He ran to his water dish and drank and then saw his food and ate till he was full… then went in to his bed and slept until dinner. He is still purring and happy… the pain is all gone and what little is left from the surgery does not bother him at all. The swelling is going down even now and draining a little.

The cause is still unknown… either he had a fall and hit something sharper than a marshmallow… or one of my upstairs cats hit his eye when they were downstairs, but I doubt it and it may have been an unusual type of ulcer or sequestrum but he hadn’t seen that type of eye for some time without it rupturing. There were no scratches or injuries that would indicate that type of trauma. The most obvious sign of trauma was the swelling and the bloody area within the eye itself.

Pepper walked right out on the front porch to have dinner with us and watch the world go by as we ate. He laid on his side and watched the butterflies on the blue flowers by the steps. He is truly a happy little boy… uh… kitten. He is playing with his little ball with the bell in it now…

One Week After Surgery

Brave little man.
A week after surgery, the hair is already growing back.

Pepper had his stitches out yesterday. He wasn’t very happy but it went ok. He has a little draining from the incision, but his surgeon says he is doing fine. A few days ago he was sneezing blood… lots of it like a person with a nose bleed… but we figured it was draining from the eye and a possible clot dissolving. He is fine now and no more blood.

Stitches have been removed. There is a slight drainage from the incision
All healed and the hair is grown in — a happy kitten once more.

A month and half after the Injury Pepper was totally recovered. He doesn’t seem to miss his eye and plays and purrs like any kitten. He is as outgoing and adventurous with one eye as he was with two. There must be an angel watching over this baby. The choice I made to have his eye removed was the right one and will never regret it. I lost the chance at a top show kitten but saved something so darling that will bring joy to who ever is lucky enough to be owned by him in the future. And Pepper just winks at life — permanently.

NOTE: The conjunctivitus, the age of onset, and the subsequent course of corneal involvement may sometimes be an indication of the rapid progression of a herpesvirus eye infection, rather than an eye trauma.

Pepper on the move. Nothing holds him back from enjoying life.

In Pepper’s case, the examining eye specialist ruled out the possibility of conjunctivitis or a herpes infection. When Linda first noticed a problem with Pepper’s eye, it was cloudy… like a thin film. When she examined the eye in direct sunlight she could see deep into the eye where there was a small bloody spot. The spot grew and swelled along with the eye. The inner eye lid was never effected, nor was the conjunctiva although as the eye swelled and the appearance of the entire area became hideously distorted.

The final diagnosis was that the eye had suffered a trauma.

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At first, Exotic breeders used Burmese and Russian Blues in addition to American Shorthairs to introduce the shorthair gene. As the breed began to gain in popularity, and as the gene pool grew larger, CFA began limiting the outcrosses.