Blind cats can live a wonderful and happy life. Vision loss is not uncommon in pets, especially older pets.
Just as people over 40 often need reading glasses, nearly all cats over the age of 6 begin to experience the same vision changes. This normal change, known as nuclear sclerosis, causes the lens to become less flexible, have a blurred appearance, and reduce its ability to focus on objects at close range. Despite the blue eyes, pets have good vision.
Eye diseases can affect vision in pets of any age, but are more common in older animals. Cataracts can make the clear lens of the eye cloudy and opaque, eventually leading to blindness. Pets can also develop glaucoma – increased pressure inside the eyeball, which can be very painful and lead to blindness.
There are treatments for cataracts and glaucoma. Pain control in glaucoma is particularly important. It is important to find out why your cat has glaucoma, as treatment options for long-term management vary depending on the underlying cause. For cataracts, surgery can reverse blindness, but is very expensive and limited to specialized veterinary ophthalmology practice.
It is not cruel to let your pet act as a blind pet. In fact, blind pets aren’t as worried about their deficits as most owners do. When your pet is blind, the cat relies only on its sense of smell and hearing. In many cases, vision loss is gradual, with pets adjusting and adapting so successfully that owners are surprised to learn that their aging cats have gone blind.
Blind cats are usually still happy. They continue to enjoy and continue to participate in life and the world around them – including their humans. Kittens don’t need to see you to love you.
8 Ways to Help a Blind Cat
The comfort, safety and emotional well-being of your blind pet is important. Follow these tips to keep your cat happy and comfortable.
- Do not move food or litter boxes: It’s important to keep food, water bowls, litter boxes, and pet beds in one place so your cat can easily find items.
- Make some scent markers: It may be helpful to “smell” important objects for the cat with a strong pheromone to help its nose “see” what it is looking for. Do not use essential oils to label a cat’s environment, as they are very irritating to the cat’s lungs and many are toxic.
- Avoid rearranging furniture: Blind pets will remember and “mind map” the house, moving things will confuse the cat.For example, it is not uncommon for a blind cat to insist on making floor-to-counter jumps with confidence, as long as its memory remains fresh and accurate.
- Protect hazardous areas: Pad sharp edges of furniture with bubble wrap until your cat learns to avoid danger. Block steep stairs with baby gates to prevent falls.
- Guide your cat with your voice: As vision decreases, your pet’s personality and behavior may change. Some pets become more dependent on their owners and act “clingy” – basically they will use you as a guide, standing close and following you. Make it a habit to talk to your cat when you enter or leave the room to help him track your whereabouts.
- To bell other animals in the house: In multiple pet homes, another cat or dog can serve as a guide for blind pets. Help your blind pet by attaching bells or other noise-makers to other animals’ collars.
- Create a safe place in every room: To avoid tripping pets who are always under your feet, please provide a safe and comfortable bed in each room. Very social cats may become apathetic once vision wears off. They may want to avoid contact with tenants to avoid being stepped on.
- Don’t startle your cat: Blind pets are also more likely to be startled, so be sure to talk to your cat before petting him to avoid accidental bites or reflexive slaps.
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your veterinarian right away. For health-related questions, be sure to consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know your pet’s health history, and can give your pet the best advice.