Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is it true that a blind cat can get around as easily as a sighted cat?
A; Absolutely! Homer, for example, can find his food, water, litter, and his favorite toys and napping spots with no trouble at all. Of course, we help him out by always keeping those things in the same places (except for his toys; he seems to remember where he’s left them) and by not leaving any unnecessary clutter on the floor. Homer has learned his way around several different homes over the years. His whiskers help him figure out where walls and doorways are, and the rest he memorizes very quickly.
Homer can even do some things our sighted cats can’t. For example, because Homer’s sense of smell is so acute, it’s impossible for us to sneak a tuna sandwich into our apartment without his knowing! And because his sense of hearing is so precise, he’s much better at catching flies than our other cats are.
Q: I recently adopted a blind kitten, or have an older cat that’s going blind. What can I do to help her out?
A: First, you should bring your cat to the vet to confirm that there has been vision loss. Sometimes vision loss may be temporary or related to treatable conditions. Your vet is the best person to make that diagnosis.
If it does turn out that your cat is losing or has lost her vision, here are a few things you can do to make your home more “blind cat friendly”:
- Make sure that food, water, and litter are always kept in the same place. “Introduce” your blind cat to each of these items by placing her directly in front of them (or, in the case of the litter box, directly in it), and letting her find her way back from them to the rest of your home. This will help her memorize, in a way that makes sense for her, exactly where those things are.
- If your home is large, you might want to have two litter boxes so that your cat is never too far from one of them to be able to find it.
- Try not to leave unnecessary items—like shoes, boxes, umbrellas, etc.—lying around on the floor. The neater your home is, the easier it will be for your blind cat to move around it.
- You may want to mark the entryways to different rooms with different-smelling perfumes or other types of oils/items that give off scent. This will help your cat distinguish one room from another. However you will probably find that, eventually, your blind cat will remember which room is which without the use of these aids.
- Buy some toys with bells! Actually, any kind of toy that makes a sound will be the most fun for your blind cat. Blind cats love to play and “hunt” just as much as—if not more than—sighted cats!
- Personally, I recommend against any blind cat’s being an outdoor cat. The safest place for a blind cat is in her own home.
Q: Wouldn’t it be more humane to put my blind kitten or older cat that’s losing her vision to sleep?
A: Absolutely not! Again, the best person to have this discussion with is your vet. It may be that your cat’s blindness is related to other medical conditions that will negatively impact her quality of life. But blindness by itself is not reason to put a cat to sleep. A kitten who’s blind from a very young age will probably never realize that she’s “different,” and even older cats can adjust quite well to vision loss, as long as they have a loving home. Cats tend to be remarkably adaptive—there’s a reason people say cats have nine lives! There is also no more expense involved in caring for a blind cat than for a sighted one.
Q: Is it true that blind cats are typically considered “unadoptable”?
A: Yes, unfortunately this is true. Kill shelters in some states will even euthanize blind cats first, believing that nobody will come forward to adopt them. Sadly, they are frequently correct in this assumption.
Homer was almost one of these “unadoptable” cats. Many people turned down the chance to adopt him before I met him. While I’m grateful that everybody else said “no” (or else I would never have known him!), it’s impossible for me to imagine that any other cat-lover’s life wouldn’t have been as enriched by Homer as my own has been.
Pets with disabilities may not be most people’s first choice, but I’m here to say that adopting a “special needs” pet can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.
Q: What can I do to help blind cats like Homer?
A: Choosing to adopt a blind cat is a wonderful thing to do. But even if you’re unable to bring a blind cat into your home, there are other ways to help.
Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary, Inc. is an outstanding organization that provides “forever care” exclusively for blind cats. You can donate food and toys, sponsor one of their blind cats, or simply make a donation. Blind Cat Rescue is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, located in North Carolina.
You can also contact your local ASPCA or Humane Society to find organizations serving blind and disabled cats in other parts of the country.