In the heart of a Pennsylvania pediatric optical practice, a gifted and caring optician added a new dimension to her services. Meet Truffles, a formerly stray feline who eventually earned the heartwarming title of “Children’s Glasses Assistant.”
The last kitten to find a home:
One day, an optician found a stray cat at a church camp with only one kitten. “When I brought her home, I said, ‘She’s going to be my cat.’ and I took her everywhere I went,” Truffles’ rescuer said.
The woman owns a children’s optical shop in Pennsylvania where she fits infants and kids with glasses. The optician recognized the intelligence of this kitten and thought she could help small children face the challenge of adapting to glasses. “When I got Truffles, I found out very quickly how smart she was,” her rescuer said. “I could teach her to do just about anything.” Her ability to learn to high five, fist bump, and perform jumping tricks soon made the woman wonder if Truffles would be willing to wear glasses as another kind of “trick.”
Behavior modification for success:
The optician used treats for behavior modification training. “[Truffles] was like, ‘Oh, if I wear these, I get a treat!’” she said. She also taught Truffles how to take the glasses off.
From stray to bespectacled:
She went about fitting Truffles with glasses the way she would for any infant and child: with comfort in mind. “I decided to fit Truffles with a pair of glasses that were basically made for a ‘preemie’ child,” she said. “They’re very soft, very comfortable. We got them curved around her head nicely and made sure that her whiskers and her eyebrow whiskers, everything is not being occluded by the glasses so that she would be comfortable.”
The once-stray cat quickly embraced wearing glasses to ease the concerns of young children and comfort them on their eyeglass journey.
The challenges of childhood vision:
From premature births with eye issues to young children grappling with vision problems, the optician understands the vast challenges these young patients face. Wearing glasses can be a significant adjustment, impacting children socially, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Truffles soon became the secret sauce for her office, making the optical journey memorable for everyone who walks through the office door – patient, parent, or caregiver. “It was something that reached kids at a level we [opticans] weren’t reaching them at,” the optician said.
Sometimes, Truffles even wears an eye patch to show kids with weak muscles that it’s OK to wear an eye patch.
Empowering through connection:
Truffles’ softness, furriness, and “complete adorableness” help children overcome embarrassment from relying on eyeglasses. Eventually, her pediatric patients come to see themselves in Truffles, “She’s just like me; she wears glasses too,” she said, the children realize. “This whole glasses thing isn’t so scary.”
With great pride, the optician adds, “I’m not really sure exactly, but when Truffles puts glasses on, kids just light up. And the kids who were once scared are no longer scared. And kids who maybe have been embarrassed are no longer embarrassed.” Through their bond with Truffles, the children embrace glasses to help them see better and feel empowered.
The story of this unique duo serves as an inspiration, showcasing the transformative power of compassion, creativity, and unexpected companionship.