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Living with a blind cat

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How to help your cat if they’ve recently lost their sight

Cats are generally very independent animals, and on the whole cope well with blindness. Most blind cats will continue to live happy lives and can often do nearly the same things as when they were sighted; however, it is recommended they are kept indoors to prevent accidental harm. There are many things you can do to help them live an easier and fun life.

Cats may become blind for several reasons, but some common causes include:

  • Retinal detachment (often due to high blood pressure)
  • Uveitis (inflammation of the inside of the eye)
  • Cataracts, lens luxation or glaucoma (all usually secondary to uveitis)
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Tumours that necessitate removal of the eye/eyes
  • Trauma causing severe eye damage or loss

Environmental factors

Cats are very good at forming mental maps of their surroundings and will use their whiskers, sense of hearing and smell to negotiate around objects. This will help them avoid banging into objects and injuring themselves.

If your cat has suddenly become blind or you have moved home, you can help them adapt by temporarily confining them to their favourite room or area of the house. Once they have become comfortable negotiating this area you can then gradually expand the number of rooms they have access to helping them adapt to their new lifestyle or home.

Top tips for making life easier for blind cats:

  • Avoid any sudden and loud noises which may scare them.
  • Keep their food, water, and litter tray in the same place. This will help them find it when needed and avoid any confusion on their location.
  • Avoid moving furniture as much as possible.
  • When leaving your cat home alone, leave the TV or radio on. Do not move the radio or speakers, the noise they emit will help blind cats orientate themselves in the environment.
  • Talk to your cat as much as possible. The sound of your voice will be reassuring and will help them place you within their mental map of the room.
  • Place textured mats outside of room entrances. This will help your cat differentiate the room they are in by the texture on their paws.

Other ways to help

  • Play is very important for blind cats. Use toys that make a noise such as rolled up kitchen foil or balls containing bells.  This will help build their confidence and mental stimulation.
  • Before picking up blind cats, speak and stroke them first so they aren’t taken by surprise. Put them back in an area where it will be easy for them to re-orientate themselves (e.g. next to the food bowl, in the litter tray or on a surface with a specific texture).
  • Try to keep as much of the cat’s lifestyle the same as when sighted. If they were an outdoor cat, then consider letting them out into a well enclosed garden.

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