One thing we can learn from our furry friends is the insurmountable ability to overcome major obstacles and put their eyes, or in Choon’s case, ears forward in every situation.
Kit (aka Choon) was born with no eyes, only eye sockets. Much to my surprise he has the extraordinary ability to not miss a beat when it comes to enjoying life. In fact, I have found few precautions that one needs to take when housing a blind cat to a sited one. As with any feline, a blind cat will enjoy playing, jumping and getting into all sorts of mischief: hogging your pillow, laying in the warm sun, begging for food, and just wanting to lay in your lap 24/7.
It was late summer when we got Kit. My husband and I were outside, and saw him get tossed out of a car at the end of our street. Just a side bar; I never understood how inhumane people can be toward each other, the environment and other beings. Which begs the question, is that a learned behavior, an environmental influence, or are they just born that way? Stay tuned for an article on this subject, now back to the story. He was a small thing, not even a year old when we saw him turning in circles, trying to find his bearings — a whiff of anything familiar. He eventually honed in on our chirps and clicks and we called him to us.
As I picked him up, I was taken immediately to him. There was something about our first contact; maybe it was his warm welcoming head butts along with his incessant purring that bonded us. Whatever the reason, the relationship was there and nothing could stand in the way of an overbearing mom when it came to his care.
Yes, there was a period of adjustment after taking Kit in; new surroundings, smells, other pets in the household and behavior do’s and don’ts (boundaries). As new blind pet owners, we also had to adjust as well toward making sure there was a safe environment for a blind cat; i.e., toilet seat down, curtain pulls cut/taken down, doors closed, unsafe objects picked up; even down to the choice of toys. It was like bringing an adoptive child home for the first time. The crying, confusion, wanted to be held, circling, trying to adjust to new surroundings.
There are a few things to keep in mind, if you are housing a blind cat; or even thinking about getting one. This can also hold true if you are adding a new sighted cat to your household. Remember that cat’s (and all animals have feelings and often feel what you feel). So remain positive and supportive at all times.
- Day 1 – Put him/her in a small room with food, water, and a litter box. You need to take a few days off of work to sit with him/her and bond. If you cannot do this, then you should not get a blind cat. This room will become their home base. They will run to this room when ever they feel scare or frightened. This will be their room.
- Days 2-4 – Open the door and allow the blind cat to explore the rest of the house, don’t push but encourage his / her exploration. Stay always behind him /her so he / she feels safe. After about 4 days, the cat will wean off of you to the point where he / she is able to explore on his /her own. It is important to remember that blind cats get disorientated easily, DO NOT PICKUP YOUR BLIND CAT AND PUT IN A DIFFERENT SPOT. This causes excessive disorientation and can cause the cat to panic. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE! Instead call the cat over to the spot where you would like him/her to go. Treats are wonderful for this. A blind cat senses are heightened. No problem smelling food from 6 feet away.
- Day 5 – Move the cat box out of the room and into the appropriate spot. You will need to train him / her all over again to the litter box. Every hour or two show the cat the box to familiarize him with its location and smell. Just as a fyi – blind cats do not like sharing litter boxes; they need to have their own, if not, it causes major headaches, if you know what I mean.
With a normal cat, it takes two weeks to acclimate to new surroundings. Not so with a blind one. It takes a good month or two before they are familiar with their surroundings before they start jumping and playing and getting into all sort of cat mischief. When a blind cats gets disorientated (does not know where he/she is) they often turn in circles, trying to get a whiff of something familiar. It is important to make sure that the cat remains calm and given lots of support during these times. If they start panting, then pick up the cat and put him/her back into their home base until he/she get calm.
Once acclimated, your blind cat will jump, climb and crawl in and on everything. Watch out! They love to get up high. Make sure furniture is soft and there are no hard edges, as they bump into things a lot. And when you are going to rearrange the furniture, be aware that your cat might need to go the initial process all over again.