Truffles was no ordinary stray cat. Danielle Crull, the optician owner of A Child’s Eye in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, found her five years ago when she was the last of the litter to get adopted. “She was this cute little tuxedo kitten who had a growl,” says Crull. Liking the cat’s spunky personality, Crull soon found that Truffles was also very smart and food-motivated. That meant she could be trained.
Now Truffles is the office cat and a bit of a worldwide sensation. She has not only learned to give high-fives and sit and wave, but she’s become an inspiration for kids who are frightened or frustrated at having to wear eyeglasses and patches. Truffles wears them with style.
Truffles doesn’t love to be held, but she’ll come right over when Crull calls her. “If kids are feeling a little traumatized about putting on eyeglasses, I’ll call Truffles and we’ll put some eyeglasses or a patch on her first,” Crull says. After that, it’s the child’s turn.
“She’s powerful,” says Crull. “I used to have to spend 30 minutes trying to calm children down. I’d play with them and work to get them to trust me. Truffles comes out and within seconds, they’re ready to try on frames,” she says.
EXPANDING TRUFFLES’ INFLUENCE
Crull began to think that maybe Truffles’ power to soothe could help kids outside of her office. She began creating encouragement packages for kids who were having a hard time. These packages come with a plush Truffles or a rubber ducky-style Rubber Truffy-–complete with glasses or patches or colored lenses. Crull’s team adds a t-shirt, a note of encouragement and a wax cat-paw seal. “Kids are completely excited when they get one of these,” she says. Truffles gets fan mail and videos from young kids and their parents who are so grateful for the support.
To expand her program even more, Crull created a nonprofit foundation, Truffles the Kitty Organization. Now people can nominate kids who are having trouble making the adjustment to their new prescription and the organization sends out an encouragement pack.
The foundation has three goals: education for clinic and school nurse offices with videos and posters about children’s vision issue, distribution of encouragement packages to normalize the therapies and to help families in financial need get their children their first pair of eyewear. “Often, parents are not prepared for the costs of getting children eye care and eyewear, and they may not understand how important that is. So we are willing to assist financially and also support them by letting them know what they should look for, how the glasses should fit and what the features they should look for with children’s eyeglasses.”
People who want to buy encouragement packs directly can visit trufflesthekitty.com; those who want to nominate a child for some support or provide financial support to the foundation can visit trufflesthekitty.org, the foundation site. The organization has been supported by some generous individual donations and ClearVision provided a grant.
Truffles – whose favorite color is green and who selects the eyewear she wants to wear that day – continues to charm kids and adults on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. In 2021, Truffles (and Crull) were honored with the inaugural EyeBuyDirect Eye Care Award. That is one influential kitty.
All photos courtesy of Danielle Crull
Read how Danielle Crull offers an annual cleaning cloth design contest with her young patients.