Although cats are well known for their excellent eyesight, they are unfortunately not immune to vision problems including blindness. Blindness can occur suddenly but more commonly the process is so gradual that the owner may not notice any problem until their cat is unable to see. Blindness is most common in older cats.
Medical causes for loss of sight include trauma, neurological problems, cataracts, glaucoma, ocular tumours, inflammation or infection and high blood pressure. Fortunately cats are extremely adaptable, and compensate by relying on their excellent senses of smell and touch. Inherited causes of blindness most commonly seen in purebred cats.
How can I tell if my cat is blind?
The most obvious sign of vision loss is that your cat starts to walk into things. If your cat is disorientated, or moves more carefully around home then this may be a sign of poor eyesight. If the blindness has occurred suddenly, then your cat will also probably be distressed. You may also notice that your cat’s eyes look abnormal, which may be a sign of infection or other changes in the eyes causing blindness.
Remember, blindness can also be restricted to a single eye. If this is the case with your cat, avoid sudden noises or movements on your cat’s blind side to avoid startling them.
Ultimately, if you are worried about your cat's eyes, arrange for an examination by your vet as some conditions can be effectively treated, preventing further vision loss. Sudden vision loss is an emergency requiring immediate veterinary treatment to attempt to restore vision.
To make life easier for your blind cat
When owning a blind cat, auditory communication becomes paramount. It’s important not to frighten your cat, especially while it is adapting to her new way of life. So call your cat more often, and make sure your footsteps can be easily detected by sound or vibrations. Talk frequently to your cat, making your speech exaggerated and clear.
Blind cats should not be allowed to roam, they need to be kept indoors, or have access only to a secure garden. Alternatively, you can take your cat out on a lead or harness if readily accepted.
Blind cats rely on scent and memory to find their way around, so keep food, furniture and litter trays in the same locations to make life easier for her. Your cat will notice changes in furniture placement now more than it did in the past. Initially, keep a newly blind cat in a confined space and gradually open up your home to allow your cat to gradually adapt without putting itself into any danger.
If you have children, remind them not to leave toys around the floor or your blind cat may trip over them. Be more vigilant when cleaning up after yourself, and don't leave obstacles in unexpected places.
As is the usual recommendation for disabled cats, make sure it’s collar is a quick release one with not only your details but also your vet’s name, address and telephone number on it. The tag should also clearly state that your cat is blind. As with all cats- microchipping is also highly recommended.