Blindness is the result of a loss of vision in both eyes. Cats may be born blind or it may occur as a result of disease, trauma, dietary deficiency due or certain drugs/toxins. It may occur suddenly or over a period of weeks or months.
There are a number of conditions that can lead to blindness in cats including:
- Cataracts (opacity of the lens)
- Glaucoma (increase in pressure inside the eye)
- Uveitis (inflammation of the inner structures of the eye)
- Retinal diseases
- Ocular (eye) tumours
- High blood pressure
- Lead poisoning
- Taurine deficiency
- Portosystemic shunt
- Corneal disease
- Untreated eye infections
- Certain medications
Often pet owners will not be aware their cat has become blind as cats adapt to a loss of vision and it only becomes apparent if there is a change to the cat’s environment (such as moving house, moving furniture around etc). Sudden blindness, on the other hand, will have a greater impact on your cat as it has had little or no time to adapt. Caring and understanding must be given to your cat along with ensuring you do your best to help it adapt.
What are the symptoms of a cat going blind?
If you suspect your cat may either be blind or suffering from any eye condition, seek immediate veterinary attention. It may be possible to help save your cat from complete blindness by quick medical intervention.
- Bumping into walls and furniture
- Unexplained vocalisation
- General clumsiness (misjudging when jumping onto furniture)
- Changes to the appearance of the eyes, for example, cloudiness or dilated pupils
- Easily startled
- Cat walking in a crouched position closer to the ground, feeling with the nose and whiskers
- Personality changes may become more fearful or nervous
- Keep high up windows and balconies out of bounds for your blind cat to prevent accidental falls
- Decreased or absent menace reflex, a test in which the veterinarian rapidly approaches the eye with his or her fingers to see if the cat blinks
- If you do move house, confine the cat to one room initially, and then gradually introduce it to the rest of the house
How to care for a blind cat
Cats adapt extremely well to a loss of vision and can continue to thrive and enjoy a good quality of life. However, precautions must be taken to keep your cat safe and well.
- Blind cats should not be allowed to roam outdoors.
- Avoid moving furniture around, same goes for litter trays and food bowls.
- Avoid startling your cat with sudden noises. Talk to your cat when entering a room.
- Keep the floor clear of clutter.
- Make sure your cat has identification, if it does accidentally get out it will be harder for your cat to find his way home.
Living with a blind cat
Blind cats can live a full and happy life. They adapt well to living without sight and make fantastic pets.