Optician Danielle Crull adopted Truffles when she found her abandoned in a forest. Now, the cat is her awesome optometrist sidekick.
When optician Danielle Crull found and adopted a stray kitten from a forest in Pennsylvania almost four years ago, she never expected her to become the phenomenon she is today. Named Truffles, the cat is Crull's assistant at her private practice—A Child's Eyes—in Mechanicsburg, where she primarily works with infants, toddlers, and children in elementary school. Her practice would not be possible without her spunky feline sidekick, who helps kids feel more comfortable in spectacles. Truffles provides support to young children struggling with severe eye problems that require multiple surgeries, medications, and treatments by hopping up next to them and being fitted for her own pair of spectacles, CNN reports.
"She is literally magical with little kids," Crull said in an interview with the news outlet. "It takes me at least half an hour to try and get to know them so they realize I'm not something to be afraid of, and Truffles will come strutting out from the back as if she knows exactly when I need her help." If a child is struggling with being fitted for spectacles, little Truffles jumps up beside them and tilts her head up so the optician can help her put on her own pair of glasses. As a result, tears quickly turn into smiles and glasses do not seem too scary anymore.
The pet mom shared, "The story that happens over and over is a little one is crying and she comes out and I put glasses on her, and they immediately stop crying and laugh and put their own glasses on. It happens countless times, and it's just as sweet every single time." Truffles' love for glasses is unparalleled; she will often fall asleep in them and refuses to let Crull take them off of her. "If she had thumbs she would do it herself, she actually loves it," she said. "She can take them off whenever she wants, but a lot of times she chooses not to." To date, the cat has collected just under 20 pairs of glasses, so there is always a pair to fit the mood she is in.
Truffles also helps children with amblyopia adjust to wearing an eyepatch, which can be an even scarier process than getting used to wearing glasses. Crull explained, "Wearing an eye patch isn't easy for kids. One thing is glasses, but eye patches are a whole different thing. It's more worry, more fear, more confusion." In these cases, Crull helps her cat put on an eyepatch too. "Truffles wearing a patch is a very big deal," the optician said. "She makes kids feel more confident about wearing their patches, and that's something I am very passionate about. This makes a real impact in these kids' lives every day."
Joella Migliori is one of the many children who have been comforted by Truffles. Now five years old, Migliori was born with three genetic abnormalities, including iris atrophy, when someone is born missing layers of their iris, resulting in changes in vision. Before she hit six months old, she had already undergone 15 different surgeries. She first visited Crull's office when she was only a year old. That is when she first met the opti-kitty, who quickly became one of her best friends and biggest supporters. Janette Migliori, Joella's mom, stated, "You know the videos of children having hearing aids for the first time? That's the experience Danielle and Truffles gave us, when Joella was able to really see for the first time. The first thing she saw was the kitty, and it just changed everything for her."
For the past four years, Truffles has been by the little girl's side, whenever she needed new glasses or adjustments. "It was never scary for her to go in there because Truffles would be there," the mother continued. "Joella has multiple 'ouchie' appointments is what we call them now, and she doesn't ever want to go, but visiting Truffles is the one single appointment we can go to where she doesn't have anxiety." In addition to supporting young children during their appointments, the optician duo has launched a fundraiser for the Children's Miracle Network, which helps fund treatment for millions of children in hospitals across the country.
One of those hospitals is Penn State Health Children's Hospital, where five-year-old Migliori was born. "They're like family at this point," her mother said. "They are fundraising for their community, and that's really special because they didn't have to do that. They don't just do their job, they care about their community, and this means a lot to parents like me." If you would like to make a donation, you can visit the fundraiser here.