The signs that your cat is going blind are quite obvious. The cat may start bumping into furniture that it previously had no problem avoiding. They trip as they climb up or down the stairs. They appear to have trouble finding their food bowl or litter box.
If you suspect that your cat is going blind and want to know what to do about it, keep on reading.
Signs Your Cat Is Going Blind
If your cat loses its sight, it most probably happened so gradually that you did not notice anything until the loss was total. This is not your fault; cats will seem completely able to do their normal activities while their vision is waning because they use their other senses to compensate. Their sense of smell is still quite acute so they may still be able to come to you when you serve their meals, even if they cannot see properly.
There are several telltale signs of a cat going blind, or already being blind. They start bumping into things. They might also get startled by a toy being waved on their blind side. You may see your cat misjudging attempts to jump up or down from furniture.
Cats that go blind suddenly rather than gradually might become disorientated or distressed. They may walk around in a wary or unbalanced state.
You might notice something abnormal about their eye or eyes. In particular, one of your cat’s pupils might appear bigger or smaller than the other. Squinting can also be a sign of blindness, as well as redness around the eyes.
If you are concerned that your cat is going blind or have questions regarding your cat’s eyesight, your vet is always the best person to consult.
Some conditions causing blindness can be treated effectively, and further loss can be prevented.
Always remember that sudden vision loss is an emergency and you should take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.
Differences in Your Cat’s Eyes
You may notice changes to your cat’s eyes with or without apparent changes in their vision. A milky or cloudy appearance to the eyes can be caused by cataracts. Cloudy eyes can also be caused by glaucoma, a raised pressure inside the eye, or uveitis, which is inflammation inside the eye.
Eyes can turn red due to high blood pressure, which causes bleeding inside the eye.
Some conditions affect the retina at the back of the eye. If this is damaged, the glow from the back of the eye appears more intense. Retinal detachment may also be caused by high blood pressure.
In a blind cat, the pupils are usually very large and do not contract into normal slits when a bright light is shone on them.
If you have noticed a recent color change in one or both of your cat’s eyes, you should take your cat to the vet to have an eye examination. Your vet will be able to tell you what is wrong and advise you on the best treatment. If the condition is more complicated, you may be referred to an ophthalmologist.
Testing Your Cat’s Vision
There are several tests a vet will perform to check your cat’s vision. You can also try these at home:
- Gently wave your hand toward your cat’s eye. If the eye is normal, the cat should blink. Make sure you are not creating an air current when waving your hand because a gust of wind into the eye will make even a blind cat blink.
- Shine a bright light suddenly into the eye. A normal cat will blink and squint or turn away. A blind cat just stares straight into the light.
- Shine a laser pointer rapidly over the floor or wall in front of your cat, or drop cotton balls from beside the cat. A normal cat will react and play with the laser or the cotton.
Caring For Your Blind Cat
If your vet has confirmed that your cat has limited or no eyesight, here are a few small steps you can take to make sure your cat has the best chance at coping:
- When talking to your cat, make your speech exaggerated and frequent. This will lead to fewer instances of the cat being startled.
- Blind cats are easily disorientated, so helping them not get lost is a priority. Keep them indoors, or provide secure access to the garden so they do not roam far from home.
- You might want to take your cat out with a lead attached to their collar or harness.
- Blind cats rely on scent and memory to find their way around, so keep their food, your furniture, and their litter boxes in the same place. If you need to show your cat where their resources are, do so; that way they do not miss anything.
- If your cat is newly blind, help by keeping them in a small space before allowing them to explore.
- Remind kids not to leave toys around, as the blind cat can trip over them.
- Highlight potential hazards with small amounts of lemon oil. This alerts your cat that something is in the way.
- If your cat wears a collar, make sure it is a quick release with their name, address, and phone number on it.
- Microchipping is highly recommended. If your cat gets lost, it will help them be brought home safe and sound.
You can tell if your cat is going blind if it starts bumping into furniture, trips as it goes up or down the stairs, or has trouble finding its food bowl or litter box. Check your cat’s eyes for any cloudiness, redness in or around the eye, irregularity with the size of the pupils, or if the pupils do not contract into slits under bright light. If you suspect that your cat is going blind or is totally blind, bring it to the vet to get a proper assessment.
If your cat’s blindness is permanent, make its life easier by making sure all of its necessities are in the same place so it does not get confused. Make sure to train it regarding potential hazards around the house. Its collar should have the proper information on it in case they wander off.
Just because your cat is blind does not mean that their quality of life will be worse. You can still love it and make its life wonderful!
Image: istockphoto.com / Mary Swift