Some of the biggest misconceptions about blind cats are they’re approaching the end of their life and that they are suffering. In reality, cats have an easier adjustment to losing their sight than humans do; they simply take it in stride. Below are some easy tips to help your blind kitty adjust even better.
Your cat will need to rely on the memories of his home in order to navigate. Resist the urge to play interior decorator and move furnishings, his food and water dishes, his litter box, his scratching post, etc. This will help give your cat an easier adjustment and build confidence. You’ll also need to resist giving in to your inner slob and not leave things laying around. (Good news, your kids will have to start picking up their own toys!) When a cat rubs his face against objects, he is actually “marking” his spot with a facial pheromone, which he can then rely on later to help him navigate. Try to place the litter box and the food dishes near each other so he can easily fulfill his basic needs in one location. If you have multiple levels in your home, place the necessary objects on both floors. Until he is completely adjusted to his blindness, block off access to stairs and high places to avoid injury. Avoid carrying your cat around as much as possible. The most important component of his ability to adjust is making a map of his environment. If you are constantly carrying him from place to place, he will have difficulty being able to figure out where he is.
Establishing a routine is also very important: an afternoon play session in the living room or a snack in the kitchen before bed. An established routine can help to alleviate stress and help him feel more comfortable.
Yes, training is still a possibility, it may be more time-consuming, but all cats need some degree of training. If your cat is motivated by food, when he performs a desired behavior, he gets a treat. Trigger words are also easy. For your blind cat, he’ll need to respond to spoken cues or clickers. When your cat is hiding in a super-secret location someday and you can’t find him, you’ll be glad if you can train him to come when called. Try to avoid teaching him any tricks that involve jumping. If he has one bad experience, he will be unlikely to engage in the behavior again.
3. Other Heightened Senses
Cats already have heightened smell, touch and auditory senses, when you add in a loss of vision, their other senses and their memory become their means to survival. Once the vision is lost, a cat is forced to rely on his other senses. Since he can’t see you approach, speak softly to him when you come near to avoid scaring him. Avoid loud noises. He won’t be able to see the source and can become quickly disoriented. If your home includes multiple pets, give his playmates bells on their collars so they can’t sneak up on him either. Give him scent-based catnip toys, or rattling and squeaky toys. As time goes on, he will get used to your natural scent and the scents of each room.
In summary, your cat’s quality of life will not decrease if blindness occurs. It will require a period of adjustment on both parts, but can create an amazing bonding experience. Once the adjustment period is complete, you’ll probably find yourself amazed at how fully he will return to normal: running through the house at top speed or playing Spider-Man jumping from furniture pieces.