Visually Impaired Cats: 7 Ways to Make Their Lives Easier

Owning a cat, or multiple cats, can bring immense joy to everyone involved. Opting to bring home a visually impaired cat is a compassionate choice, offering a chance for a cat that may otherwise be overlooked to find a loving home. Contrary to assumptions, many one-eyed cats exhibit little hindrance in their daily activities and can navigate their surroundings adeptly, displaying agility comparable to their sighted counterparts. However, some visually impaired cats may face more significant challenges, ranging from partial vision impairment to complete blindness. While cats inherently adapt to their circumstances with resilience, they may benefit from some assistance from their human companions to enhance their quality of life. This article aims to explore the experiences of visually impaired cats and guides on ways to facilitate their daily routines. After all, we all require support and understanding at different stages of our lives.

The Dilemmas of the Visually Impaired Cat

If you’ve made the compassionate decision to rescue a visually impaired stray cat, you may wonder about the circumstances that led to their injury. Stray cats often endure various hardships while living without a home, and some of these challenges may involve conflicts with other cats over resources like food or territory. This is particularly common among unneutered male cats, as they are more prone to aggressive behavior due to higher testosterone levels. In contrast, neutered male cats typically exhibit calmer behavior, as their reduced testosterone levels diminish the need for territorial disputes.

Alternatively, partial or complete vision loss in stray cats can result from viral infections with symptoms similar to the common cold. Cats afflicted with such infections may develop crusty, gunky discharge around their eyes. In an attempt to relieve discomfort, they may inadvertently injure their eyes further by pawing at them, potentially leading to severe injuries such as eye ruptures and subsequent vision loss. Many cats suffering from severe infections may require medical intervention to address their eye issues.

Some Ways To Make Their Lives Easier

To enhance the quality of life for your visually impaired cat, it’s essential to empathize with their situation. Consider what adjustments would improve your own life if you were visually impaired. Likely, you’d prioritize finding key locations such as the bathroom, refrigerator, microwave or oven controls, and doorways. Put yourself in your cat’s paws and ponder: What are their fundamental daily requirements? Which areas might pose challenges for navigation? Even a cat that is completely blind can surprise you with their resilience and adaptability, engaging in playful mischief despite their condition.

1. Make Important Places Easy to Find

Ensuring accessibility to essential resources like food, water, and the litter box is crucial for assisting your visually impaired cat. Designate permanent locations for each item, making sure they are easily accessible. Opt for a litter box with high sides and a low front entrance, ideally placed in a corner for added stability. When positioning the food and water bowls, place them near each other but maintain some distance between them to prevent spillage. Since eating may be messier for visually impaired cats, keeping their belongings consistently placed in one spot is vital to avoid confusion and accidents. Consider placing the bowls on a mat to facilitate easy locating.

2. Understand Your Cat Will Use Their Claws More

Your cat will do a lot more climbing than jumping. This can be difficult if you do not have covers on your furniture. It’s simple to find sturdy couch and chair covers online. Your cat will climb onto the couch using their claws to pull themselves up. Over time, this can do a number on your furniture. This is also true with your bed. It’s possible to save your bedding by placing a sturdy comforter or other blanket that you don’t mind getting messed up over your bedding. There are also stairs and ramps for furniture or beds, but ensure the sides won’t let your cat fall.

3. Get Used to Not Moving Things Around

One of the golden rules when caring for a visually impaired cat is to maintain consistency in their environment and avoid unexpected changes or obstacles. This is particularly crucial for blind cats. While minor rearrangements may not greatly affect cats with partial visual impairment, it’s essential to exercise caution and consider your cat’s specific needs. If your cat relies on memory to navigate, ensure that significant elements remain in their usual places. If you introduce a new obstacle or furniture, use markers to alert your cat, encouraging them to proceed cautiously. Employing creative solutions, akin to the bump strips used by visually impaired individuals, can help delineate safe paths for your cat. These markers, placed approximately a foot away from the object’s perimeter, serve as tactile guides, enhancing your cat’s spatial awareness and safety.

4. Helping Your Cat Know Which Cat/Dog is Approaching

Here’s a thoughtful method to assist your blind or severely visually impaired cats in discerning the approaching paws. In a multi-pet household with cats and dogs, opt for distinctively sounding bells and attach them to each animal’s collar. However, your blind cat does not require a bell. They will swiftly learn to associate each sound with a particular pet. Additionally, it’s beneficial to instruct visitors to communicate with your cat and verbally engage with them as they approach, reducing any confusion for your feline friend.

5. Let Them Explore

Bringing home a visually impaired or blind cat can initially be daunting. Navigating the dos and don’ts of living with your new feline friend may pose challenges. However, the key is to allow them to explore at their own pace. Accompany them during their explorations, offering guidance on the best ways to climb and assisting as they navigate. You’ll be surprised at how swiftly they adapt, particularly to spatial awareness. Ensure your living space is conducive to their needs, blocking off any areas with potential obstacles. Their long whiskers serve as natural sensors to detect nearby objects, aiding in their navigation.

6. Play With Them

Your visually impaired cat will derive just as much enjoyment from toys as any other cat. Opt for toys equipped with catnip, rattles, or other noise-making features. Some cats may even enjoy playing fetch with you. While laser pointers and visually stimulating toys may not be suitable for blind cats, they can still be enjoyed by cats with varying degrees of visual impairment. Cats naturally love to play, and if you have multiple cats, they may engage in playful interactions together. Be sure to set aside time each day to play with your cat, as they will eagerly anticipate these moments of interaction.

7. Don’t Worry!

It’s natural to feel concerned when your pet has a handicap. However, cats often handle their handicaps with remarkable resilience, reminding us to ease up a bit. Avoid being an overly controlling “helicopter cat parent” by allowing your cat the freedom to explore and play independently. Take necessary precautions such as blocking off stair railings and addressing any potential hazards in your home, then let your cat navigate and adapt on their own. Cats possess incredible resilience and adaptability, always finding ways to thrive despite challenges. Whether dealing with blindness or visual impairment, they refuse to let it hinder their adventurous spirit. Encourage and support their natural instincts, allowing them to embrace their feline nature to the fullest.

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