When W and her family visited an adoption fair to find a companion for their cat Pixie, her daughter chose a purry grey tabby who climbed on their shoulders. The family was smitten with the incredibly friendly feline, so they adopted him in April 2011 when he was just two months old, naming him Oliver. “From the beginning, he thought he was a dog — following us around the house, begging for table scraps, and flopping over for belly rubs,” remembers W.
While Pixie never bonded with Oliver, or Ollie for short, W and her family definitely did. Over the years, their connection with Ollie only grew stronger, and he appeared to be a pretty typical cat until W and her family noticed some dark spots on his right eye. “Last spring, they started growing faster,” says W. “We took him to a specialist who diagnosed iris melanosis — eye cancer — because his pupil was distorted.”
However, the diagnosis wasn’t definitive, and the only way to confirm Ollie had iris melanosis was to remove his right eye and biopsy the tissue. Before taking such a drastic step, W and her family elected to have an ultrasound performed on Ollie, which ruled out any other possible types of cancer, leaving iris melanosis as the only possible diagnosis.
“We opted for enucleation on June 21, 2021, one year ago,” remembers W. “The vet assured us that Ollie would adjust easily to having one eye, and sure enough, within a day was jumping on counters, begging for table scraps, and flopping over for belly rubs again.”
Even though it didn’t take long for Ollie to adjust to his new life as a one-eyed cat, W and her family were still eager to find out if he had in fact had iris melanosis. “The biopsy results came back positive — it was cancer and we caught it just in time,” says W.
More than a year later, Ollie is still cancer-free, and he’s a pretty typical cat, although he occasionally has issues with depth perception. While this is rarely an issue, sometimes he doesn’t notice when a piece of food has been dropped on the floor, which is more of a problem for Ollie than his family. “It’s hilarious because he is food-obsessed and gets so frantic trying to find it, which only adds to his unique personality,” explains W.
Aside from this relatively minor issue with depth perception, Ollie isn’t all that different from the average cat. In fact, his favorite activities are chasing after his feline sister, stealing his family’s food, going for walks on a leash, and having his belly rubbed. “For the past year we’ve given him so much more attention,” says W, “and he’s become even more lovable and cuddly than before.”
Even though it’s obvious Ollie is thriving, W has encountered people who think one-eyed pets must have sad lives. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth for Ollie, and while some individuals also believe one-eyed animals aren’t as attractive as their two-eyed counterparts, W and her family definitely don’t agree. “We thought Ollie was cute before his surgery and now we think he’s even cuter — and just as happy and silly as he ever was!” says W.
By sharing Ollie’s story, W hopes not only to raise awareness about iris melanosis, as early detection is extremely important, but also to encourage more people to embrace special kitties. While Ollie was a perfectly healthy kitten when his family adopted him, as a one-eyed cancer survivor, he and his mom want to make sure special cats receive all the love they deserve. “He is the self-appointed pirate ambassador for , spreading the message that pets with one eye, no eyes, and other disabilities are beautiful and worthy of adoption, medical care, and forever homes,” says W.
To learn more about this handsome cat, you can follow Ollie on Instagram.