More Meows is an Amazon Associate. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. We may also earn commissions if you purchase products from other retailers after clicking on a link from our site.
Old age or disease can lead to blindness in cats, and agonized owners may wonder if it is kinder to put them down. After all, cats are such visual creatures with their big, beautiful eyes. However, the truth is that cats adapt very well to being blind because they still have their acute hearing and sense of smell to rely on, not to mention their whiskers.
Blind cats that are in good health should not be put down. Blind cats will soon adapt to their loss of sight by becoming more reliant on their other senses to get around. Cat owners may need to make things a bit easier for blind cats at home, but blind cats can still live a healthy, active life.
Cats are generally independent animals and cope quite well with blindness. Blind cats can still do many of the things that they could before they lost their sight. A cat owner can do several things to make it easier for a blind cat to cope, but a cat doesn’t need a cane to find its way. Read on to learn more about blind cats!
- If you are wondering what the best products are for your cat, check out this article that will break down all my recommendations for you: Things To Buy For A Cat Right Now!
How do Blind Cats Manage?
A blind cat relies more on its hearing and sense of smell to learn about its environment. Its whiskers can also tell it how close it is to an object. The cat also relies on its memory of where things are in the home to navigate its way around.
Do Blind Cats Have Longer Whiskers?
No, blind cats do not have longer whiskers. It is probably an old wives’ tale that blind cats have longer whiskers. Whiskers are known to grow in proportion to the width of a cat, so if your blind cat gets less exercise and weighs more, they will likely have longer whiskers.
Additionally, blind cats are prone to have broken whiskers because they are more likely to run into walls or furniture, which might break a whisker.
How Many Whiskers Does a Cat Have?
Most cat breeds have twelve whiskers in four rows on each cheek. Whiskers are not the same as a cat’s ordinary fur because they grow from blood-rich follicles packed with nerve endings. As a result, they are as sensitive to touch as a human hand and can tell the cat a great deal about its surroundings.
Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?
Even sighted cats rely heavily on their whiskers to aid their vision. A cat’s whiskers provide information on changes in air currents and the size, shape, and motion of nearby objects. In addition, they can detect very faint vibrations, which can alert the cat to the presence of enemies and prey.
Whiskers can prevent a blind cat from bumping into walls and other solid objects. In addition, proprioceptors at the ends of a cat’s whiskers help the cat to keep its balance and be aware of its body position in space. This partly accounts for why cats can land on their feet.
Blind Cat Sense of Smell
Blind cats know you are preparing their food because they can smell it and will come and rub up against you like they did when they had their sight. However, they can quickly become disoriented, and it helps to talk to them clearly and distinctly so they know where you are.
All cats are equipped with pheromone secreting glands in their cheeks, lower legs, and under the tail. When a cat rubs its cheeks on furniture or other objects, it deposits these scents on them. In the case of bind cats, this can help them navigate around the house.
Their sharp hearing allows cats to distinguish between various sound sources some distance away. If you have a pond or swimming pool, keep your cat indoors or cover it up to prevent your blind cat from falling in.
Some cats adapt so well to being blind that most people can’t tell if they are blind or not. However, if you have another sighted cat bonded with your blind cat, the other cat can help your blind cat get around.
Common Causes of Blindness in Cats
There are several different causes of blindness in cats. The most common are:
- Trauma resulting in severe damage to the eye;
- Uveitis, an inflammation inside the eye;
- Retinal degeneration due to old age or disease;
- Eye tumors that require the removal of the eye;
- Glaucoma or cataracts which are often the result of uveitis;
- Retinal detachment may be caused by a blow to the head or high blood pressure.
Enrofloxacin, an antibiotic, has been shown to damage the feline retina when ingested and causes sudden blindness in cats. However, sudden blindness is rare, and it is more likely that the cat will have been going blind for a while before the owner notices.
It is imperative to immediately take your cat to the vet if you notice they are startled easily or are bumping into furniture and other objects. Look at your cat’s eyes regularly and if you see redness or cloudiness or an unusual discharge, take your blind cat to the vet. Doing so could prevent your blind cat from going blind. You should also keep taking your cat to regularly scheduled veterinary checkups where they will check them over well.
How To Help A Blind Cat
Give your cat time to adjust to being blind if it went blind suddenly. Your blind cat will work it out eventually. If you adopt a blind cat, introduce your blind cat to only one room at a time. In shelters, cats often form pair bonds, so if you notice that the blind cat you propose to adopt has a seeing feline friend, it’s a good idea to adopt their friend too.
Use an open litterbox to make it easier for your blind cat to smell it and get in. Your blind cat may be confused by a covered litterbox. It may also be better to use two litterboxes, one at each end of the house. Always keep them in the same spot.
Put your blind cat’s food and water in the same place every time so that your blind cat can locate the food and water from memory. Your blind cat will also use the food and water bowl location to orient themselves in the house.
Don’t rearrange the furniture. Your cat has developed a memory of where things are and will bump into them if they are not where he expects to find them.
Can a Blind Cat be Left Alone?
Yes, a blind cat can be left alone. If you leave your blind cat alone, leave a radio or the TV on for your blind cat, always in the same place. This can help your blind cat position itself relative to its surroundings. Additionally, depending on the cat breed, they may need companionship. If you get another cat or already have another cat, put a bell on their collar so that your blind cat can hear them.
Make a point of interacting with your blind cat by talking to them as often as possible. Your voice helps your blind cat to locate you within a room or another part of the house. It can also be reassuring for your cat to know where you are.
Don’t pick your blind cat up without first talking to them and touching them gently. It can be very disorienting for a blind cat to be suddenly picked up with no warning. Instead, when you put your blind cat back down on the ground, put them in an area they know, such as the food spot or litter box space. This way, your blind cat can quickly orient themselves again.
Keep loud and sudden noises to a minimum because they will frighten your blind cat. Your blind cat still needs to play. Buy them toys that crackle or have bells or rattles that they can zone in on. Keep the house tidy so that there are no obstacles on the floor to trip your blind cat up.
How Do You Introduce a Blind Cat to a New Home?
If you move homes, put your blind cat in only one room at first so that they can get used to it before gradually introducing them to other areas of the house. This is also helpful for cats who have gone blind suddenly.
Ideally, blind cats should be kept indoors as much as possible for their safety. However, if they were always an outdoor cat, set up an enclosed space where they could be outside and enjoy the grass and the sunshine. An alternative is to walk with your blind cat in the garden on a leash, but you will have to get your blind cat used to the idea.
Can a Blind Cat Live in a House with Stairs?
Yes, a blind cat can live in a house with stairs, but you should be especially watchful. If you have stairs in your house, your blind cat may struggle with them. You could block off the stairs to prevent your blind cat from going onto them, but you could also teach them to navigate the stairs using different scents. For example, you could use a few drops of one essential oil at the bottom of the stairs and another essential oil at the top.
Cats have extremely sensitive noses, so a few drops are all you need. Your blind cat will associate downstairs with one scent and upstairs with the other. Make sure to refresh the smell now and then after it fades.
Health and Safety Help
A blind cat may not be as active as a sighted one. Ensure your blind cat doesn’t get too fat by giving them a healthy diet that considers the increased inactivity. Play with your blind cat often to keep them stimulated and happy.
Do not cut your cat’s whiskers when grooming your blind cat. Blind cats are very dependent on their whiskers to get around. Whiskers will tell a cat if the space in front of your blind cat is too narrow to go through. Each whisker leads to a particular spot in the cat’s brain, so don’t underestimate their importance.
Microchip your blind cat so that it is easy for those who find them to bring your blind cat back to you if they get outside.
Ensure no sharp objects around the home and garden might injure your cat if they walk into them. Plant catnip in one spot in the garden so that your cat can use the sense of smell to locate it.
Put a breakaway collar around your cat’s neck with a tag that tells people about their blindness. It can also help to put bells on other household pets so your blind cat knows when they are around.
How Can I Help My Newly Blind Cat?
There are quite a few ways you can help your newly blind cat. First, ensure you are taking your blind cat to the veterinarian to ensure no larger medical concerns are at play, such as tumors.
Next, educate yourself on how to live with a blind cat. You will likely want to do the following:
- Get your cat a breakaway collar with identification in case she gets outside.
- Ensure any other pets are wearing a collar with a bell.
- If you pick your cat up, put them down in spots in the house they will be spatially oriented around, such as their food location, litter box location, or near a tv or radio that is usually on.
Is It Cruel to Keep a Blind Cat Alive?
No, it is not cruel to keep a blind cat alive. Just like a blind human, blind animals have much to offer. Blind cats can still show affection and love, and they are living creatures that deserve to live. They can live good lives even though they do not have their sight any longer.
Can Blindness in Cats be Reversed?
It is possible that blindness in a cat can be reversed if it is caught early enough. However, even if cat blindness is caught early, that doesn’t ensure that it can be reversed. Some key things to look for in your cats’ eyes are:
- Changes in eye appearance
- Changes in Iris color
- Any cloudiness in the eyes
- If the pupils don’t appear like each other
What do you do with a Blind Cat?
You can live with your blind cat. You should give your blind cat a home where they can feel safe and loved. You can even play with your blind cat. Even though they can’t see, I bet they’ll still love playing with yarn or a rainbow cat charmer.
To see this awesome rainbow cat charmer that my cat (who can see) loves, and I think a blind cat will love to play with also, check this out on Amazon (affiliate link): Check Out This Rainbow Cat Charmer On Amazon.
Can a Blind Cat Use a Litter Box?
Yes, a blind cat can use a litter box. Cats love to use litter boxes because they are familiar places that they know they can do their business. That doesn’t change when cats are blind.
When you have a blind cat, you will want to make sure that you keep the litter box in the same spot and don’t move it. This will help your blind cat find the litter box and also help them with spatial orientation around the room.
In other words, if they know they are near the litter box, they will know where other things in the house (tables, chairs, walls, etc.) are in relation to that litter box.
There is no need to put a cat down simply because they are blind. Blind cats can still live a fulfilled and comfortable life, especially if you make a few small changes to let your blind cat feel loved and secure. Blind cats can still do many of the same things as seeing cats and need to be stimulated by play, affection, and talk.
If you enjoyed this article, please check out a few more: