Cat regains sight thanks to dedicated volunteers

Bongo the cat after the surgery on his eyes
When volunteers discovered Bongo had a dangerous eye condition, they went above and beyond to help this community cat.
By Christina London

Imagine being confined when you’re used to wide open space. There are unfamiliar smells and sounds all around, voices of people you don’t know. Worst of all, you can’t see anything, and your eyes hurt a lot.

This was the situation community cat Bongo found himself in. But before long, he would be pain-free with his sight restored and a newfound faith in humans.

Gathering intel

Community Animal Welfare Society (CAWS), a Best Friends Network Partner, heard about a sick community cat named Bongo. Located in Sandy, Utah, CAWS provides vital services, such as pet adoption and low-cost spay/neuter surgeries. They also focus on helping local community cats (aka cats who live outdoors). It’s one of the most important ways shelters across the country have reached no-kill — by organizations working together to help community cats live happy, healthy lives in their outdoor homes and keep them out of shelters.

To gather more information about Bongo’s condition, volunteers set up a wildlife camera next to the food bowl. When they watched the footage, they saw that poor Bongo’s eyes were red and swollen, and they suspected it was entropion: a painful condition where eyelashes rub against the eye itself.

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“It can lead to bad eye infections and blindness over time,” explains Jen Colby, one of the volunteers.

Living outside, community cats depend on their senses. So Operation Catch Bongo was on. However, trapping this stealthy cat wouldn’t be easy.

“I’m sitting here night after night, hour after hour trying to catch him,” says Jen. “Once I finally trapped him, his eyes were so infected that we weren’t even sure he would be a candidate for surgery.”

Saving Bongo’s eyes

At first, Bongo did not like being confined in an indoor environment one bit. The frightened kitty growled and hissed whenever volunteers tried to come close. But with a little time, soft voices, and plenty of yummy wet food, Bongo started to warm up. Before long, he was accepting chin scratches, headbutts, and even kisses from his caregivers.

It was confirmed that Bongo did indeed have entropion. After a week of antibiotics, the infection cleared, paving the way for entropion surgery. The procedure could give Bongo the chance to see again, so CAWS scheduled the surgery and covered the vet expenses.

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After surgery, Bongo looked like a whole new cat. His bright eyes sparkled like yellow diamonds. Best of all, his vision was restored. While under anesthesia, Bongo also received dental surgery to remove some broken teeth and was neutered, which softened his personality.

“Once you get them neutered, they often turn into big old squishy, friendly cats,” says Jen.

The dedicated team at CAWS truly gave this handsome boy a second chance at life.

Let's make every shelter and every community no-kill in 2025

Our goal at Best Friends is to support all animal shelters in the U.S. in reaching no-kill in 2025. No-kill means saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved, accounting for community safety and good quality of life for pets. 

Shelter staff can’t do it alone. Saving animals in shelters is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes support and participation from the community. No-kill is possible when we work together thoughtfully, honestly, and collaboratively.

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