Author’s Warning: The photos may disturb some readers as it looks like this sweet little guy had a bad accident, but he was born with a cleft palate.
How old is Lazarus?
Approximately 7 months old
Where did his name come from?
Just like Lazarus in the bible, Lazarus the kitten is a wonderful miracle.
Was he born with the primary cleft palate or is that something that developed due to an injury?
Lazarus was born with a primary cleft palate in which his nasal passages are located in the inside of his mouth and he is missing the padding of the nose and upper lip.
How did he end up under your care?
I am a university professor and have also participated in some animal rescue work in my area. One of my college students found Lazarus roaming her neighborhood and gave me a call believing that I could help.
Did you worry about bringing him home?
My immediate thought was to get this little kitten to a vet. He had bone exposed on the top of his mouth, was infested in fleas, and was malnourished. After rushing him to the vet, it was also discovered that he had worms. My worry for him in my home was protecting him from additional harm from my many other pets. I also wanted to protect them from any health issues that he would have that could be passed on to other animals.
Do his siblings treat him any different?
Each sibling responded to Lazarus differently. Maggie, a yorkie, was happy to have someone approximately her size around. Elle wanted to protect him from the others. Vandy and Murphy were excited about the new addition. The cats wanted to check out his mouth. Char gave him little attention past that point. Moses, the cool guy in the house, was social with him but wasn’t ready to be pounced. He held his head tall around Lazarus. And Abraham, being the baby cat in the family, hissed at Lazarus to show his objection in being replaced as the baby. Over time, their relationships have all grown to be playful and loving with one another.
Does he take any medications or require extra monitoring or cleaning because he has no nose or upper lip?
Right now, Lazarus is off of medication. When I first got him, he required repeated prescriptions of antibiotics because he had so much infection in his mouth. I continue to have to monitor his nasal passages and assist with keeping those passages clear. I also monitor to ensure that there is no evidence of further infection. Lazarus sleeps with a humidifier to keep the passages moist, which reduces bloody noses.
Will he ever need surgery or will he grow into an otherwise normal kitten?
Lazarus has already undergone one surgical procedure to clean the infected areas and to extract “bad” teeth. At this point, we are not electing to do additional surgery because he has presented a medical need. If that day comes, we will proceed in doing what is needed to support Lazarus’ good bill of health.
What did you know about primary cleft palate before taking him in and what have you learned since?
Since I work in the disability field, I am aware of many different disability categories. It does differ when we are talking about a cat because we aren’t planning speech therapy, extensive dental care, or reconstructive surgery for cosmetic purposes. He is quite functional and happy the way he is. As in humans though, cleft palates are unique to the individual they belong to. Lazarus’ care is unique to Lazarus.
Is he able to eat dry food or does the food need to be wet or partially softened?
Lazarus eats dry food, which his doctors believe is less likely to be aspirated into his lungs. He is quite funny to watch when eating. He works really hard to keep the food in this mouth, but it does look like some sort of silly game his playing with the kibbles. He manages quite well in the eating department. He is my little hoglet.
Is he strictly indoors? Has he ever been outside since living with you?
Lazarus is an inside cat although he does go outside to play in the yard with supervision.
What would you like people to know about animals afflicted with this problem?
All animals even those with unique attributes such as a cleft palate just want to be loved and accepted. Since getting Lazarus, I have gone out into the community to share his story with others. People find him to be so cute and lovable. I hope that those positive thoughts will generalize over to people with disabilities as well. After all, everyone has something special and unique to contribute to this world…even Lazarus.
How often does he need to see the vet?
Lazarus saw the vet around every 2 weeks during his first 5 months of life. Since his surgical procedure to clear the infection, he has only been in once to his booster shots.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I encourage people to follow Lazarus at https://www.facebook.com/CareForLazarus. Frequent posts including pictures and videos are included. Also, Lazarus was highlighted in a Hooplaha video, which can be found at http://hooplaha.com/lazarus-rescued-kitty-miracle-story-2/.
Do you have a chip in or a place where people can donate funds to help with his continued care?
A Care for Lazarus fundraising site has been set up at http://fnd.us/c/1McM0. These funds will be used for cleft palate related care for Lazarus and any remaining funds will be utilized on animals with disabilities who need a medical procedure. One procedure on a cat with one eye has already been performed to close the empty socket.
Author’s Note: I would like to thank Lazarus & his mom for letting me interview them and sharing his story as well as pictures. Pictures were used with permission. You can find him on facebook at Care for Lazarus.
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