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Author Topic: Caring for a blind cat - advice appreciated
Em
Happy Holly Days


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My mother's seventeen year old cat is going blind. The vet says that her retinas have become detached, and while the steroid shot he gave her helped for a couple of days, she has since continued to deteriorate. It's possible that a steroid shot once or twice a week for the rest of her life would keep her vision from getting worse, but she gets more upset about visiting the vet than she is about not being able to see.

She seems able to tell where the windows are during the day and where the lamps are at night, which at least gives her some reference points. As long as she is always put back on "her" chair after being picked up she seems able to navigate the loungeroom and kitchen fairly well. If she's put down anywhere else, it takes her a while to work out where she is. She often tries to jump onto laps which aren't where she thinks they are, or to jump off them in the wrong direction, landing awkwardly.

Unfortunately, she lives with two younger cats, one of whom is black and therefore pretty much invisible to her against the dark wall colours and floorboards in the house. Neither of them deliberately pick on her, but they sometimes startle her and she runs away, usually headfirst into a wall. She seems to hit a different wall each time she does this, so padding them isn't really an option.

Apart from not moving the furniture around, does anyone have any experience or suggestions on how to care for a blind cat?

ETA: The cat in question, taken back when she still found it worthwhile to stand at the back door watching the world go by.
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landmammal
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Spraying different scents on the furniture is supposed to help a lot (i.e., lavender on the sofa, peppermint on the legs of the dining room table. The sense of smell generally hangs on after sight and hearing have deteriorated, so using perfumes will help her navigate.

If she's not already an indoor cat, now's the time to turn her into one.

Good luck! I've heard it's much easier on (pet) animals to go blind than people.

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Em
Happy Holly Days


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She's already an inside cat. She was an indoor/outdoor cat up until a couple of months ago, but that's not an option anymore. She sometimes goes out into the back garden under close supervision, but only for short periods. She'd prefer the front yard since that was always her territory and the back yard belongs to the chickens, but nobody wants to take the risk of having her startled by something and running into traffic.

I hadn't thought of scents on furniture. Thanks, that's just the sort of advice I was after.

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dfresh
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A seeing eye dog is probably out of the question... I think the scents is a good idea, as is just don't move things around too much, and probably keep doors shut to the basement type places, where she might get lost.
Posts: 420 | From: Oxford, PA | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
candycane from strangers
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No real advice, but sympathy. My older dog is blind, and we have a younger black dog, so it's the same situation with her not being able to see.

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blucanary
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We had a blind dog once. She was fairly young when she went blind. And we moved her several times. So she never actually saw the last 3 houses she lived in. She never seemed to have a problem as long as things didn't move on her.

Occasionally she'd get excited, like when the cats scared her, or someone rang the doorbell. She'd run into a wall she knew was there, or go sliding when she hit the hard wood floor. I felt bad for laughing at her but it was funny. She developed a calus on her nose but other than that she seemed very happy and aware of what was going on around her.

I miss my puppy now. [Frown] We lost her 3 years ago.

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FrogFeathers
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Our cat went blind as she aged and we didn't do anything special for her, other than alert her to our presence by talking to her so she didn't get startled. On her own, she stopped coming downstairs in the daytime (our kids were still relatively young). She'd come down the stairs, but sit halfway up and "watch" us. When the kids were in bed, she'd make her "rounds" to each of their beds like always, then come down to the living room to be with us adults.

She never really had any problems- not even with our dog at the time (he was a Rottie and she owned him from puppy-hood after a clawed whack to the nose).

I'm sorry I don't have any real advice. Our cat seemed to adapt pretty well without our interference.

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Troberg
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One more here with experience of a blind dog. She really got along well and had little problems. I'd say that you should just take it easy and your cat will soon get used to it. Cats are night animals after all, so they are not as reliant on vision as we are.

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Moon
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I have no ideas, but your cat is beautiful. I have the same type of kitty.

*hug*

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erwins
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I have heard that most owners whose cats go blind gradually don't realize that their cat has gone blind.

Cats adapt extremely well to being blind. She will use scent, hearing, and whiskers to navigate and to know what's going on. Don't move the food or the litter box. Always put her down in a place she can recognize by scent or texture. (Near food or litter box, her favorite chair, as you mentioned, etc.)

The other suggestions here are good. There's also some useful info here: http://blindcatrescue.com/

erwins

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foglifter
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About the black cat: Not sure if it would be of any help, or even practical since a lot of cats are picky about these things, but perhaps getting it to wear a bright yellow collar or something would help the older cat to notice when the black cat is around?

The different scents sounds like an excellent idea.

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Mickey is a Hanukkah Bush
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Or how about a bell for the black cat?

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LyndaD
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I second the bell idea for other animals. Ideally a different bell for each cat. The scent idea is good, too. If she is just now losing her sight, it may take her awhile to adapt. It might help to restrict her to one or two rooms for awhile, so she doesn't have such a big area to learn all at once, the gradually increase her access to the rest of the house.

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Em
Happy Holly Days


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I suggested the scented furniture to my mother when I saw her yesterday, and she's going to give it a try. She's going to start with a different scent for each area of the house rather than for each piece of furniture, although the chest Jess likes doing laps of will get its own smell.

Bella used to wear a bell, and knows how to move so it doesn't make any noise. I don't think a bell would work for Eddie (the black cat). He's a bit like my cat, and would probably try to eat his own head in an effort to get the bell off so he can chase it. Fortunately, he's a gentle and fairly thoughtful cat, and he seems to have realised that Jess doesn't always know he's there. I saw him yesterday "herding" her away from a lamp she was about to walk into, so it seems she may have a seeing-eye-cat to help her out.

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Tabbymago
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quote:
Originally posted by Em:
I don't think a bell would work for Eddie (the black cat). He's a bit like my cat, and would probably try to eat his own head in an effort to get the bell off so he can chase it.



I don't know why, but that made me laugh so hard I nearly choked.

quote:
Fortunately, he's a gentle and fairly thoughtful cat, and he seems to have realised that Jess doesn't always know he's there. I saw him yesterday "herding" her away from a lamp she was about to walk into, so it seems she may have a seeing-eye-cat to help her out.
Awwwwww!

-Tabby
the princess with claws

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Em
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by Tabbymago:
I don't know why, but that made me laugh so hard I nearly choked.

I made the mistake of giving my cat toys with bells in them when I first got her as a kitten, so when I tried to but a belled collar on her a couple of months later the results were spectacular. I knew cats were flexible, but the positions she managed to pretzel herself into trying to chase something attached to her own neck were just wrong.

She's much happier helping me work on the computer in a bell-free state:

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ETA:
quote:
Originally posted by Tabbymago:
quote:
Fortunately, he's a gentle and fairly thoughtful cat, and he seems to have realised that Jess doesn't always know he's there. I saw him yesterday "herding" her away from a lamp she was about to walk into, so it seems she may have a seeing-eye-cat to help her out.
Awwwwww!

He was probably just trying to beat her to the food dish or something, but it looked like he was trying to help her.

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