coping with blindness

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sarah+shadow
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coping with blindness

Post by sarah+shadow » Wed Apr 09, 2014 5:34 pm

So about two months ago I noticed her eyes were extremely dilated and she was wandering about a bit more than usual. The vets gave her kidneys the all clear and she has a full bill of health apart from her eyes. Its really sad because she used to be so lively and playful and now she is rather subdued. She's still purring and enjoying cuddles but its breaking my heart seeing her walk into walls. Its only been the last few weeks that her eyes have gone completely and I know that by wandering around she is getting her bearings but id just like to know if there is anything I can do to help her get the most out of the rest of her life, we also have a dog she used to play with and now im worrying he'll stress her out! Should I buy noisey toys and re introduce her to playtime? Or just let her get on with it and keep everything uncluttered? Any replys would be much appreciated

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lilynmitz
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Re: coping with blindness

Post by lilynmitz » Wed Apr 09, 2014 5:53 pm

I'm really sorry to hear this, it must be so distressing for you to see. It may be high blood pressure - this can cause blindness, but there may also be congenital issues such as poor blood supply to the retinas. Did the vet check her blood pressure?

I adopted a big fella Mitz at age 8, but it was only when I got him home I realised he was blind. He coped so well in the rescue centre, where he'd been waiting a long time to be rehomed, that they didn't realise he couldn't see. In his case it was congenital. But we'd already fallen in love with him so he stayed with us.

He managed really well - cats can map in 3D very effectively, so he knew the height of everything, the house layout, he very quickly worked out where his food and litter was, and even learnt his way round the garden (I don't think he'd ever had outdoor access before). We obviously had to make the garden secure for him, but we really didn't have to adapt the house that much. We tried not to move furniture around too much, and didn't leave things on the floor that he might trip over (eg shoes in the middle of the floor etc), and we learnt not to put things on the edge of the bed that he might crash into when he jumped up. I put a scratching post at the top of the stairs so he didn't fall down the narrow bit of the winders at the top. When going to stroke him, we always rubbed our fingers first so he knew it was coming and didn't make him jump. He also learnt to follow the sound of rubbing fingers to guide him through the maze of feet/table legs/clutter if he got disoriented. He wasn't one for playing much, but I know another on this site had a blind cat who loved playing with toys with bells etc. Mitz loved his catnip though, and would play catch with catnip mice and chew them to bits, and there were one or two rolling toys he would try to play football with (it never lasted long, poor lad!) He even caught a butterfly once (peacocks have very noisy wing beats!), and brought it in doors for me looking very pleased with himself.

While it will be very sad seeing her becoming less mobile and, in the short term, very hesitant, she will adapt very well to her new condition, so long as you make things safe for her, and can still have good quality of life. Mitz made me very proud of how he coped, and the way he trusted us to help him was humbling, and the relationship we had with him was really special as a result. Sadly I lost him to cancer 18 months ago, but we just loved him to bits, he was such wonderful character.

I would imagine your dog will soon get the hang of her new behaviour, and she certainly won't have any trouble working out where he is from the noise and/or doggy smells!

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Re: coping with blindness

Post by hgale » Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:08 pm

Hi Sarah

I would just echo all that Lily has put. My late cat Kitten went blind in late 2011 (she did regain some sight but it was never the same), and she coped better than I did! I also made sure there were no obstacles, furniture stayed put etc, and she adapted very well to an indoor life (and she had always been a real outdoor cat too). Rubbing your fingers so they don't jump when you stroke them is a good idea, I did that for her, and she learnt very quickly which way to lean for just the perfect rub! I also put some old cushions down around the units in the kitchen at first, so if she did bump into them, it was a soft bump for her, it really helped her get her directions.

Please give her a gentle (with warning!) fuss from me.

sarah+shadow
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Re: coping with blindness

Post by sarah+shadow » Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:09 pm

Hmm well the vet checked her eyes for the signs of high blood pressure (not sure if this made any sense) and checked her urine for all the tell tail signs of high blood pressure and diabetes and all other possibilities. He said she was in perfect health for a 15 year old little lady.

We have just had new laminate flooring put down and shes been wandering around checking all the corners, ive been dragging my feet so she can follow the sounds and scratching at my bed so she knows its clear to jump, I'll just try to keep everything the same, now I know shes not suffering its a great weight off my mind!

She is highly receptive to my voice so I'm chatting to her loads :)

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Crewella
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Re: coping with blindness

Post by Crewella » Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:27 pm

Just to echo what everybody else has said, I had a cat, Alpha, who lost both eyes to glaucoma aged 12. She coped very well, after the first couple of weeks, and in time found her way around the house and garden very easily (she seemed to go by smell). She had a couple of 'special' places I set up for her where she could get away from the rest of my gang, I enclosed the lower part of the garden (she never jumped), I talked to her all the time and she learned to follow my 'fairystep' footsteps everywhere. I eventually lost her to cancer, but only a few weeks before the end she came home, very proudly, with a mouse! :)

Fusses to your girl. x

sarah+shadow
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Re: coping with blindness

Post by sarah+shadow » Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:32 pm

Oh wow! In a none morbid way id be so happy if she got the chance to catch something! Shes an indoor cat now and has been since we moved about 5 years ago as there just wasn't anywhere for her to wander safely, she lets me carry her into the garden and sit in the grass with me, however im avoiding carrying her everywhere as I dont want her to lose her iindependence.

she just keeps on sitting and napping in different places around the house, odd places like near the front door and the midddle of the kitchen :S but this must be her way of rediscovering the house, I wish I could post a picture!

Im feeling much better now knowing other cats have coped very well with blindness :) thank you all so much!

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Camdengirl
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Re: coping with blindness

Post by Camdengirl » Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:29 pm

I adopted a blind cat a while back, he'd just lost one eye and his sight (as a result of cat flu) and it did take him a bit of time to get used to it. A couple of times early on he ran full speed into the wall (getting overexcited about his food), which was quite upsetting to see, but his whiskers grew thicker and longer in his first few months with me and after a time whenever he ran 'into' something he bounced off just before impact, almost like a 'hovercat' with a cushion of air around him! He got to know the layout of the place really well (and learned new places, like my parents' house) and after a few months he knew my flat so well that I could pick him up, cuddle him and put him down without him getting disorientated. (Until then, I tried not to pick him up much.)

As Anna says, it's best to avoid moving furniture or leaving things on the edge of beds/sofas etc that she might jump up onto. Hopefully because she knows her surroundings she'll be able to find her way around no problem, but I'm sure she'll find it easier with time, and her natural cat curiosity will no doubt help. We once went to stay with my parents at Christmas and my Dad called me down from upstairs to move Clay off the table! Clay also liked to play, generally with toys he could hear. His favourite was a Santa on a string with a bell in, and he also enjoyed cat nip.

It must be hard seeing your cat go blind, I didn't have to go through that, but cats seem to cope amazingly well with disability. And your puss has the advantage of being somewhere she knows and with a loving owner, so although I'm sure it's disorientating for her it probably hasn't been nearly as frightening as it could have been. Clay handled going blind and a new home incredibly well, he was a gentle, trusting little lad, and he loved his cuddles and fusses. Here are a few pictures to show that a blind cat really can enjoy life!
Clay 1b.jpg
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Clay A2.JPG
Clay A2.JPG (26.7 KiB) Viewed 1807 times
Clay F.JPG
Clay F.JPG (35.31 KiB) Viewed 1807 times

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Willowgill
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Re: coping with blindness

Post by Willowgill » Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:09 am

I have a blind cat and can confirm they cope remarkably well - far better than humans. She will soon find her way round and as everyone else has said can still lead a happy contented life. We think Max probably had a congenital problem as he was very aggressive when he was little which probably stemmed from being startled and has gradually lost his sight over the last few years - he's 13 now. My mother in law had macular degeneration and had lost her central vision and I've likened Max's condition to this as I think he can still see shadows at a distance - he bumps into things in front of him and can't see food on the floor although he finds it pretty quickly by smell. He still wanders around the garden but has thankfully stopped climbing the fence since 4 dogs moved in next door (he managed this even after losing his sight). He can still chase Alfie but has walked into Daphne a few times and had a short sharp shock when she's hissed at him :-) I think your dog will probably realise there is a problem - it's strange but Daph is very tolerant of Max and will only hiss when that happens. We have a weekend apartment and take the cats with us - Max has soon learned to navigate his way round the rooms so I'm sure your little lady will be fine. He does love his high scratching post though - something he never used when he was sighted - and has completely destroyed one and on the way to doing the same with the new one. He has a lot of other behavioural issues but I'm sure these are nothing to do with his eyesight.

sarah+shadow
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Re: coping with blindness

Post by sarah+shadow » Thu Apr 10, 2014 7:58 pm

Update

She woke me up fighting to get into her whiskers dentabits last night! She never used to do this so I think her sense of smell must of improved. Also she climbed into my bed for cuddles so she is still as affectionate as she used to be :)

im sure shes been mapping out the house, she had a meyowl in the bathroom because I think she got frustrated trying to find the door but I opened it more and let her find her way out instead of picking her up and carrying her out.

Shes clambering up on everything she can and napping in random places, im sure this is all part of the process

to be honest I think shes more active now than she was years ago !

And shes bumping short of objects now :)

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Walesgang
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Re: coping with blindness

Post by Walesgang » Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:15 pm

My Tips has been blind since she was about 6 months old although she had sight when she was younger. The vet thinks that she has no sight at all.

She is nearly eight now.

She copes remarkably well. She had access to a secure garden, where she spends a lot of time listening to birds and other creatures, and catches the occassional thing.

We have to be careful not to leave things in the middle of the floor, and if we move anything we have to 'show' her wy tapping it for her to explore.

We have taken numerous precautions like placing cushions Infront of corners she used to run into.

I would definately not be too concerned about blindness. It is not the disability it is in humans.

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lilynmitz
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Re: coping with blindness

Post by lilynmitz » Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:46 am

One more tip to help a blind cat, Mitz was always bumping into the edge of doors, as he couldn't tell if they were left partly open, particularly in the hall where the door opened outwards from the kitchen, so we always kept that door fixed fully open, and the door to his litter tray area was always just open a cat's width. If you can set up routines like this in the house, it will help your puss to cope. (What's her name, by the way?) Routines are all the more important when they can't see.

I'm pleased to hear she's adjusting already. You'll probably find she does get disoriented from time to time and calls for someone to rescue her. Mitz used to do that. He would also start yelling if he couldn't find us, or if something frightened him, so I used to go and give him a big hug, and he quickly settled. If you do pick her up and move her to another room, make sure you orient her first so she can work out where she is. I used to make sure I didn't put Mitz by something he'd bump into or instantly fall off, and would keep my hand on his side for a couple of seconds just to make sure he didn't wander straight off and crash into something. They soon learn to trust that touch on their side to guide them. They're amazing animals. Lordy I miss my big fella..

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