How to Take Care of a Blind Cat in the Best Way
Living With a Blind Cat
A blind cat is disabled and we have lived for 19 years with my little blind cat Kyra.
There's a difference between blind cats that are born blind and blind cats who suffer from sudden blindness caused by a disease or accident. The latter will probably experience more difficulties in adapting to their blindness. For a cat that's born blind the world has never been bright and sunny.
Our cat Kyra was born blind and her world has always been dark and formless. She learned to trust her nose and ears. Somehow she had a sixth sense for situations that weren't safe for her, especially around dogs that came into our house.
I hope my experience with living with a blind cat can help others.
How Kyra Came to Live with Us
Kyra was born at a farm, but her mom got killed in the mowing machine and she came to live with the girlfriend of my daughter. Kyra was only 10 days old at that time and when she fully opened her eyes, they discovered she was blind, because she kept bumping into everything.
The vet told them that Kyra would probably not live beyond her first year. As this girlfriend had a driving instruction school, they found it too dangerous to keep Kyra, because so many people would wander in and out their house. They were afraid she might get ‘crushed’ in the middle of all that human traffic, so then my daughter took her home to the apartment she was living in and that’s when Kyra came into our life, because my daughter used to take her with her when she was coming home for a weekend.
After a while we noticed that Kyra loved to roam outside in our fenced garden and after she had fallen down the fifth level balcony of my daughter’s apartment, we decided that Kyra should stay with us and she’s been living here ever since she was about 1 year old until she passed away at the age of 19.
I did some research on the internet on this subject and found a lot of advices that contradict my own experience. I took some quotes and tell you my experience. As Kyra reached the age of 19 years we must have done something right I guess.
They Say About Blind Cats #1
Keep your cat indoors at all times. A blind cat cannot detect danger and run from it, especially if attacked or chased. If you do let your cat outside, never leave her side. A harness and leash can allow your pet to go out and enjoy the outdoors safely. A harness provides better guidance and control while walking. You need to be her eyes and watch out for things she might bump into.— Petplace.com
This might be so if your cat has gone blind after having been able to see. Kyra however was born blind, so she didn’t know the world had quite a different look than she saw it. She found the cat door by herself and it took only a few times helping her to get in again. Kyra relied on her ears and nose.
Oh sure, she bumped into things once in a while, but that happened mostly when she was a bit stressed. We never had her on a harness and our garden was fenced all around anyway because we had hunting dogs at the time. Kyra often managed to climb the fence one way or other. When she got really stressed, she lost control and that’s when most visitors discovered that she was really blind.
Of course we kept stressful things out of her way as much as possible and visitors with dogs had to keep them on the lease until we knew they wouldn’t harm her, or if we didn't trust the dog we locked Kyra in a room upstairs for the time being. On the whole, we often just forgot that she was blind. She got her food on the kitchen counter, otherwise the dogs would steal it.
Have You Ever Had to Deal with a Blind Cat?
They Say About Blind Cats #2
Among other things, blind pets strongly rely on their memory to help them navigate through your home. The most important thing you can do for your cat is to keep things in the same place as much as possible. It is important that you be consistent.— Petplace.com
True. We paid attention to that at first, but not so much later on. Kyra has bumped her head quite often, but never too hard and she has never shown any sign of stress when she did, she just changed directions.
Are Healthy Cats Picking on Blind Cats?
Kyra Is the Boss over All Cats and Dogs in Our House
In our house, Kyra was the boss. She was bossing the Tortoise ‘Red‘ and she was bossing the Border Collie dogs Tipper and Dixie.
The only cat she really respected was our big Tomcat Bram, but he passed away, bless his darling soul.
Kyra and the Tortoise were enemies from the start and whenever the tortoise was getting too close, Kyra would jump at her and then the flocks of hair would fly all over the place. The tortoise was so stupid to let herself get caught all the time. The only thing she had to do was to jump on a chair or a table to avoid getting attacked by Kyra.
They Say About Blind Cats #3
A cat’s sense of hearing is amazing. Cats can hear high frequency sounds we cannot. They can also distinguish the tone or pitch of sounds better than we can. And their ability to locate the source of a sound is highly advanced. From a yard away, a cat can distinguish between sound sources only three inches apart. They can also hear sounds at great distances – four or five times farther away than humans.— Petplace.com
This is so true. Kyra has always been on guard when she smelled something she was not sure about, like strange dogs. She has been attacked twice by a neighbour’s dog and what she did was start jumping up and down all over the place, about a meter high. That behaviour confused the dog and gave us time to rescue her.
She even managed to catch mice and flies too.
We have a 1200 square meter garden around the house and she found her way around perfectly. In summer she hardly came into the house whether it was raining or not. Sometimes she came in soaky wet. I know I wasn't very thrilled when she jumped into my bed at night that way.
They Say About Blind Cats #4
You may feel the urge to pick the cat up and carry her from one place to the next. Carrying her will help her to move safely from A to B, but it does the cat no favours. Studies have shown that cats are literally egocentric – they literally orientate the world in relation to themselves. When you pick up a blind cat and move it to a new location, her navigation system becomes disrupted, resulting in a confused and stressed cat. Put her down in a familiar place.— knowyourcat.com
Kyra has never fallen off a chair or table, she’s very cautious when she’s on strange grounds. What we did was the following: We placed her on the table and then hold her and guided her slowly down to the floor. We did that too with the chairs and the kitchen counter. We only had to do that once or twice and then she knew the distance and she would make the jump herself.
She had found the cat door by herself, but when we connected the house to the barn, she had to go through two cat doors and that took some time. I used to guide her from a familiar place in the garden, to where the new cat door was and then pushed her through. She had to push the new cat door a bit harder and in the beginning she just refused to do that. But after a few weeks, she uses the cat doors from the inside and outside, so that problem was solved.
Sometimes it took her a bit longer to get used to changes. She loved to climb into boxes and bags and it always amazed me how fast she found them. I found her in the most peculiar places in the house and then I wondered: “How on earth did you know you could climb on that”.
They Say a Cat Has 9 Lifes
Kyra Almost Used Them All
- She once fell from a 5th floor high apartment balcony and the thing that saved her was that the people on the first floor had their marquee out. Kyra fell in it and was catapulted into the bushes. She had nothing.
- She got attacked by the neighbor's dog and by starting to jump up and down real quick and real high, she startled the dog and gave us time to rescue her.
- She once got stung by a wasp in her throat and only because my hubby and a friend were having a beer outside they discovered her gasping for air and I never drove that fast to the vet, thinking she would die on me on the way over. We were on time, she got a shot and was saved.
- Only once she got really lost, but we were determined to find her and kept calling her. She hardly meows ever, but at last my hubby found her in the bushes across the street.
- She once fell into a rain well we were draining and that well runs about two meters under our kitchen and my hubby who was watching the TV, heard her crying. He jumped right into the well and then Kyra swam towards him and climbed up his trousers. I was upstairs and hadn’t heard her.
- She got attacked by a big German shepherd and I found her high in the trees. She must have jumped around again. Clever girl.
- She survived her first year and many years after that.
Our Little Blind Cat Loved to Climb Trees
They Told Us She Wouldn't Live Very Long - She Proved Them Wrong
As Kyra was not a normal cat in many ways, the vet was sure that she wouldn’t last a year. Not only was she born blind, she was very small too and a bit malformed here and there.
She had the size of a normal cat of 6 to 8 months old, her tail had a kink, her nails were malformed and when she got neutered, her uterus appeared to be malformed too.
All this didn’t keep this lovely cat from growing up and enjoying life.
My Blind Cat Kyra Was Still Having a Ball at the Age of 18 Years
At the age of 18 years she was still doing extremely well, though I saw some signs of old age appearing. I was feeding her cooked chicken and soft cat food, because she couldn't chew the dried pet food anymore. She just loved to eat.
Where ever she was, when you happened to eat a sandwich or another snack, she was there in front of you in no time. We used to put the garbage bin in front of the kitchen counter, so she could jump on it herself, but she developed some arthritis in her hips and couldn't make the jump up anymore. She could still make the jump down though. I once had the garbage bin open when cleaning onions and she jumped right in ha ha. Kyra was just an amazing little kitty with a mind of her own.
Kyra's behavior started to change
Around September 2012 we noticed a slightly difference in behavior. When we called her she was not coming straight to us, but started to make little rounds on the spot she was in. It occurred to us, at least we thought so, that she was losing some orientation ability and that she didn’t know exactly anymore from which direction the sound came from. We thought she was developing some hearing problems. One new thing she was doing was that she would sit somewhere and then started to meow a lot and very loud.
She had been doing that when she had caught a mouse and was telling us to come see what the cat brought in. She never meowed otherwise, so this was strange, like she was feeling all alone or something. So when we heard her hollering, we made sure she knew that one of us was around.
She was still quite playful, especially when she got hold of my long braids.
Old Cats Can Get Alzheimer Disease
I had never heard of Feline Dementia, but while observing Kyra’s strange behaviour, the thought came into my head that she was somehow 'losing her marbles' as the saying goes. I started to wonder if cats could suffer from Alzheimer disease, so I called my vet and asked him. He confirmed that my thoughts were right and that Kyra could be suffering from dementia.
I searched the internet: Cats Dementia and it came up with a lot of articles and youtube movies of which I will show you some to read and see how you can recognize Feline Dementia in your cat.
Links to Websites About Feline Dementia – Always Better to Know About What Your Cat May Suffer Of
If you notice a change in behavior of your old cat, like just sitting there staring into nowhere, sudden loud meowing or other strange behavior, you might check out these pages to see if your cat’s behavior resembles that of cats with Feline dementia.
Because if so, you at least know why your cat is doing that and can then treat the cat accordingly, like not punishing the cat when peeing beside the potty, reassuring the cat when she/he seems lost.
Give it some more attention and make sure your cat can still enjoy her/his old age.
Kyra often can’t find her cat box anymore and then she pees on the floor but always at a few standard spot. So we had a bunch of those stackable plastic letter trays and we put them on those places with a bit of filling in them. She's using them most of the time.
They won’t smell if you clean them every day. It’s a bit of work, but who cares.
- Senior Dementia in Cats: Common Signs of Feline SenilityDo cats get Alzheimer’s? Is it normal behavior for a senior cat, or is there a problem?
- Feline Dementia – VetInfoFeline dementia is suspected to affect 28 percent of cats ages 11 to 14 and almost 50 percent of cats older than that, but it is very hard to detect because symptoms are often attributed simply to “old age.”
- Know your cat – Dementia in catsknow your cat contains information about cat health from general advice to infectious and other diseases.
- Feline dementia | The Conscious CatCan cats get Alzheimer’s or dementia? What can you do to prevent mental decline in your senior cats?
October 20, 2014
The Beginning of the End
Kyra’s fur got all tangled and matted again, because she was often out in the wet grass and she licked herself a lot. She wouldn’t let me cut out the matted pieces so I had to take her to the vet. They gave her a light anesthetic and shaved all the bad matting away. Kyra looked like a mini lion. In order to keep her from catching a deadly cold, we had put her in the bench of one of our dogs with a lamp to keep her warm and cozy and she actually was quite happy there.
We were happy too because she had developed a habit of finding the weirdest places to take a nap and sometimes we couldn't find her at all and had to wait until she appeared again. Calling her name didn't help, because she was deaf and couldn't hear us.
At this time Kyra had no urge to go outside. I think she had lost the ability to find the cat door but to be on the safe side, we decided to keep her indoors from that point on. She slept most of the time anyway, but still loved to eat. We often took her out to cuddle her.
November 21, 2014
We saw a change in Kyra’s behavior last week. She didn’t want to stay in her bench anymore, but when she was out, she was just sitting on the kitchen floor doing nothing. Once we found her in one of my kitchen cupboards. Then she found a small half empty grocery box, crawled in and slept there. If we didn’t bring her to her food/water and litter box, she wouldn’t move at all. Last two days she wasn’t eating or drinking much either.
Despite the fact that she wasn’t in pain, we decided last night to put her to eternal sleep. I couldn’t bear the thought of finding her dead somewhere one morning, which certainly would have happened within a few days.
Today I brought her to our vet and he said she already was quite dehydrated. He gave her a shot to go to sleep and she went into coma on my arm and then he gave her the final shot. She was out within a second and I was glad we had made that decision, because apparently she was ready to go.
I took her home and we buried her in the garden on the spot where she so often slept in summer.
Reaching the age of almost 19 years is quite an achievement for a little blind cat of which the vets said she wouldn’t last a year. She has lived a beautiful cat’s life as you can read above.
R.I.P. My Little Blind Cat Kyra
Kyra Used Her 9 Lives Well and Made the Most of Them
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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© 2017 Titia Geertman