A woman reading a book on her sofa with a cat on her lap

Top tips for living with a blind cat

So you’re thinking of adopting a blind cat? Or has your own beloved pet recently lost its sight? Cats are adaptable creatures with acute senses hearing, smell and taste.

Blindness is no barrier for your feline – if you’re prepared to make a few adaptations to your own lifestyle.

So if your cat is showing signs of blindness, first get it checked over by a vet – having existing pet insurance in place may help you cover the costs of any immediate treatment.​

Then start making a few simple changes to your home and the way you act around your pet, engaging its other senses and allowing it to lead a perfectly content and active life.

 

What causes blindness in cats?

Some cats are born with blindness, while others develop it later on, particularly when they’re elderly.

There are several causes: damage from feline herpes virus; untreated high blood pressure; glaucoma; cataracts; degeneration of the retina; tumours; or scarring, among many others.

Some of these are caused or worsened by underlying issues such as diabetes, thyroid issues, kidney disease, injury, or inherited conditions. 

So it’s important to keep your cat in good health, with trips to the vet if you spot worrying signs – pet insurance may help you pay vets’ fees for accidents or illnesses.

A cat sleeping on its back in its owner's arms

How can I tell if my cat is going blind?

Blindness often develops over time, so it may take you a while to spot the signs in your pet.

You may notice it missing its litter tray when it urinates, or bumping into things.

It might be easily startled, perhaps just on one side. Your cat may also start walking crouched low to the ground, and misjudging distances when it jumps.

Its eyes may change in appearance, looking cloudy, swollen or enlarged. You may also spot discharge, and notice your pet flinching or batting your hand away if you stroke it on its head.

And you may become aware of behavioural changes: it might vocalise more, or become less active.

If you have any concerns, visit your vet. It’s possible that with prompt treatment, you’ll be able to stop certain conditions in their tracks and save your moggy’s sight.

Sudden sight loss is an emergency, so contact your vet immediately. Pet insurance from Purely Pets provides cover for vets’ fees, and also gives you access to a 24-Hour Vet Helpline.

 

How to make a blind cat’s life easier

If your cat does go blind, you’re likely to feel sad on its behalf and worry about how you will care for it.

However, even sighted cats use their whiskers to feel their way around spaces, and are excellent at forming mental maps.

And it will develop its other senses to compensate – you’ll be astounded by its excellent senses of hearing, smell and touch!

There’s no reason why your blind cat can’t go on being your happy, cuddly bundle of fur for years to come if you make allowances for its lack of sight and find ways to engage its other senses.

A cat smelling the hand of its owner in a bedroom

Here are our top 12 tips for living with a blind cat.

  1. Keep it indoors, with a fenced-off run in the garden if possible. If it’s gone blind suddenly, it’s a good idea to confine it to a small area of your home at first while it adapts.
  2. Give it toys and lots of attention to keep it alert and stave off boredom. Toys that make a noise will be especially beneficial for a blind cat.
  3. Talk to it loudly and clearly so you don’t startle it as you approach. Your cat always wants to know where you are, so the sound of your voice will be reassuring and help it place you in a room.
  4. When you pick up your cat, keep speaking to it. Make sure you put it down somewhere familiar, such as next to its food bowl, so it can re-orientate itself easily.
  5. If you have other pets, put bells on their collars so your blind cat can hear them approach.
  6. Allow your cat to navigate its way around your home using its sense of touch. Different textured floors will really help it get its bearings.
  7. Try to keep your house clear of mess, and avoid moving furniture around. This makes it easier for your cat to learn safe routes around your home, and avoid injury. It’s especially important to keep the cat’s bed, food bowls and litter tray in the same place.
  8. Leave your radio or TV on as much as possible. The noise will help your cat orientate itself better.
  9. Take extra care with stairs. If your cat is newly blind, use a toddler safety gate until you’re confident that your feline has learned how to handle steps without sight.
  10. Avoid carrying your pet around. When it walks, it leaves a trail of scent from the glands on its paws that help it orientate itself.
  11. If you move house, take special care with your cat as it gets accustomed to its new environment. Confine it to a small area at first, then gradually increase the space it has to explore.
  12. Don’t lift your cat onto high surfaces where it might fall. Of course, it will probably still try to jump up – that’s just in a cat’s nature, and its lack of sight won’t change that!

In fact, a blind cat is pretty similar to a seeing cat. Perhaps the main difference is that it could spend less time out hunting, and more time inside curled up your lap. What’s not to love about that?

An owner rubbing the cheeks of their tabby cat

Get a quote from Purely Pets today

All owners want the very best for their beloved moggies.

At Purely Pets, we offer 15 levels of lifetime cover for accidents and illnesses, so you’re sure to find a policy that matches your pet’s needs and your budget.

Remember – pet insurance will only cover new conditions, so it’s best to take out a policy while your cat is still young and healthy.

Contact Purely Pets today to keep your cat protected throughout its lifetime.