Living with a blind cat

Some cats are blind from birth whereas others (the majority) lose their sight gradually with age. If your cat is becoming blind, or you’re considering adopting a blind cat, here are some tips to help turn your home into the purr-fect cat-haven.

Cats adapt well to being blind as they have their other amazing senses to help them out. They build a picture of the world around them using their incredible hearing, superior sense of smell, twitchy whiskers and super-sensitive paws. Even with complete loss of vision, cats can live full, happy and safe lives.

Why do cats become blind?

The most common causes of blindness include:

  • Detachment of the retina (nerve ending-rich membrane lining the eye) as a result of high blood pressure caused by hyperthyroidism or kidney disease.
  • Glaucoma (harmful increase of fluid pressure within the eye)
  • Previous infection with feline herpesvirus (a respiratory virus).
  • Cataracts (where the lens becomes harder and opaque).
  • Degeneration of the retina (as a result of infection, toxin exposure, poor diet or inherited disease).
  • Eye tumours.
  • Injury to the cornea (the clear outer surface of the eye).

Your vet will suggest the most appropriate treatment to help preserve your cat’s sight for as long as possible. Sometimes, despite treatment, your cat’s eyes may become too painful and your vet may recommend an operation (enucleation) to remove their non-visual, sore eye.

What are the signs your cat mat be blind or losing their sight?

  • Changes to eye appearance: complete or patchy colour change, cloudiness, a very large pupil (the black dot in the centre of the eye) or a swollen eye.
  • Changes to behaviour- seeming confused, disorientated or startled.
  • Bumping into things (especially if you’ve recently moved furniture around).
  • Pulling away or becoming aggressive when you stroke their head or face (due to pain).

If you notice anything unusual about your cat’s eyes, speak to your vet who can contact us here at Focus for specialist ophthalmic advice. If you would like us to examine your cat, your vet can arrange a referral appointment.

Here at Focus referrals, we’re proud to be recognised as a gold standard cat friendly clinic by the ISFM (International Society of Feline Medicine). This means our clinic and staff use proven cat-friendly techniques in a feline-focused environment to make your cat’s visit to us as stress-free as possible.

How can you help your blind cat?

  • For their own safety, keep your cat indoors and keep their microchip details up-to-date.
  • Consider introducing new cat-friendly scents, plants and toys to enrich your cat’s environment.
  • Try to keep furniture in the same place; cats use their whiskers to judge distance and gaps.
  • Your cat may be fine using the stairs but if you’re concerned, use a stairgate to limit their access.
  • Keep litter trays and feeding bowls in the same place. Each time a cat steps, their paws mark the floor with a scent that they can retrace to help navigate around your house.
  • Speak to your cat before approaching or stroking them.

At Focus, our fantastic team of feline-fanatics can help guide you through both the medical details and practicalities of living with your partially sighted or blind cat. Please do get in touch for further advice.