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Incontinence in Cats
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Rehoming Special Needs Cats

4 min read

All cats deserve a loving family and a forever home. But there is a special group of felines that need a little bit of extra attention and care. In return, they’ll give their owners plenty of love for welcoming them into their life. These are the special needs cats, a lovely group of furballs that are often overlooked during the adoption process.

Some of them have been harmed or treated poorly, others have an illness or condition that requires life-long care and possibly ongoing medication. All of them need our affection more than we’ll ever know, but don’t require as much effort as you might think. Adopting a cat or kitten is extremely rewarding. With patience and guidance from the vet, there is no reason why they can’t have fun-filled lives, despite their special health condition. After all, they still have eight lives left to live!

So, if you want to know more about special needs cat adoption and what life might be like with one of these amazing fellows by your side, here are some of the common physical limitations in cats who may be struggling to find a new home.

Blind cats

Bonding with blind cats and coping with cat blindness can be easier if you keep in mind a few simple rules: keep everything they need (food, water, toys etc) in the same place so they can memorise the objects’ locations, avoid letting them out (except in an enclosed catio where they can have some fresh air but stay safe and around familiar objects), and ensure that their microchip details are kept up to date so they can be returned home safely in case they get lost.

You might think that leads and cats have never been best friends, but some felines tolerate them quite well. With some training and practise, walking your blind cat on a harness and lead can be a great way to keep them safe and let them wander outdoors with you by their side.

Deaf cats

Owners can’t imagine their lovely feline not being able to hear and respond to the sound of their voice. But deafness in cats is not as life-changing as it might seem at first. So much so that it can be difficult for cat lovers to spot their pet’s lack of response to the sounds around them, as they typically compensate the lack of hearing with other senses.

For cats who can’t hear danger approaching (especially traffic), an enclosed catio or a cat-proof fenced garden, can be the perfect way to allow them to enjoy the great outdoors safely, as well as give them fresh air and enrichment opportunities.

Remember to make sure your cat’s  microchip details are up to date however so they can be returned home safely in case they get lost.

Three-leg cats

There are many disabled cats looking for adoption and, among them, the felines missing one of their limbs can easily be the stunning pet you’ve been looking for. Leg amputation is sometimes necessary if a cat has been in an accident or as a result of a tumour that needs to be removed before it spreads to other parts of the body. But they’ll accommodate to life on three legs in no time and you’ll soon see them keen to run and walk again.

Owners of cats with a missing limb need to keep a close eye on their pet’s weight as this can put extra strain on their remaining three limbs. These felines might not be able to roam the neighbourhood or be quite as active as other outdoor cats. The drop off in physical activity can often translate into extra pounds. They still have all their natural hardwired behaviours however – and will still enjoy the chance to stalk, chase and pounce, so make sure that they have plenty of games and play indoors, and lots of gentle enrichment opportunities that don’t require them to jump or leap.

Learn how to cope with amputation in cats using our helpful guide. 

Cat with life-long medical needs

On the list of special needs cats there are those furry friends dealing with life-long conditions such as arthritis or diabetes. Some of the ways owners can help cats enjoy a healthy and happy life for years to come involve weight management, specialist diets and medication.

The good news is that with the help of a vet as well as specially created diets for cats with specific conditions, most of these health concerns can be managed successfully.

FIV-positive cats

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is similar to the HIV infection in humans, but cannot be transmitted from cats to their owners (or to dogs or other animals). In fact, many cats diagnosed with FIV can continue living happily without any clinical manifestations of the virus infection. However, they need to be protected from infections, so vaccinations and regular flea control are key for these special needs cats. As long as you follow your vet’s advice, life with a cat affected by FIV can be just as wonderful as with any other pet.

As FIV positive cats can pass this on to other cats through their saliva (bites), they should be kept as the only cat in a home and be ‘indoor only’ cats so as not to transfer the disease to other felines in the neighbourhood. They will however enjoy an outdoor catio (or a cat-proof fenced garden) which only they have access too, so they have a chance to get outdoors.

FeLV-positive cats

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) is viral infection that affects only cats and unfortunately  once a cat is permanently infected, there is no cure and the virus will eventually be fatal, with the majority of cats dying within four years of FeLV detection.

Diagnosis is by blood test but as these are not totally reliable, they are often repeated several times before a firm diagnosis can be made.

The virus oftentimes damages the white blood cells which means the cat is no longer able to fight off infections. When looking after a cat that has been diagnosed with FeLV it’s important to make sure you keep them secure and protected from hazards.

Keeping FeLV positive cats indoors is highly recommended or else with access to a secure outdoor area, and they must be kept isolated from other cats (both in the home and in the wider neighbourhood) as they can infect other cats.

Good preventative actions taken as guided by the vet can help these special needs cats have a joyful if shortened life.

Adopting a special needs cat is such a rewarding experience for any pet lover. Although physically limited, these pets are so easy to love and, in many cases, looking after them is not as difficult as you might expect. With the proper guidance from a vet, you can enjoy plenty of fun-filled years together. If you’re thinking about adopting a cat and you’re not sure where to start, check out our expert guide.

And make sure you visit your local rescue centre to check if there are any special needs cats waiting for a loving family to welcome them home.

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