Blind & Partially Sighted Cats

Cats can become blind through illness or injury, or sometimes with age. Kittens are also occasionally born blind. Cats adapt wonderfully well to any disability, partly because they are so accepting. They tend to just work out ways of adjusting, using their other senses.

Adopting a blind cat might sound like quite an undertaking but caring for a blind cat is not really that difficult, you will need to make some adjustments and above all use common sense. If you do this your blind or partially sighted cat should be able to enjoy a long and happy life.

Below are a few question and answers regarding blind and partially sighted cats

  • As with people, even a little sight can be helpful.  So if you are not sure if your cat is completely blind, try to find out if they can see anything at all.  You need to cover each eye in turn, then wave a toy or other article in front of the cat’s eye, and see if they can follow it.  Do this silently, as she may follow even slight sounds with their ears. 

    If they turn out to have any vision at all, you will be able to treat them fairly normally.  But always approach a cat with vision in only one eye from the side where they are able to see you.  And bear in mind that one-eyed cats probably have very poor depth perception, and are likely to have trouble climbing and judging heights. 

    You will need to think carefully before allowing a partially sighted cat to go outside, but if they have reasonable vision, they may be able to cope safely with the outside world.  However, an enclosed garden could be better for this type of cat.  Completely blind cats should probably be kept indoors, but they may learn to negotiate an enclosed garden if it has no obstacles.

  • Cats which were born blind or became blind in kittenhood usually manage extremely well.  They find their way around using their whiskers and other senses, and know of no other way of being.  It may even be hard to believe that they are actually sightless, since they are so well adapted.  However, you will probably still need to keep such cats indoors, and try to ensure that the home is safe for them.

    Cats which become blind later in life may find things difficult at first.  A cat which is going blind due to illness or old age may needs lots of comforting and reassurance.

  • Firstly, try not to move your furniture around too much.  Your blind cat is likely to work out where everything is by carefully going around the house.  But it is a good idea to show your blind kitty where important items like the food, water, and litter tray are, and not move these around.

    Be careful if you have to pick up your blind cat and move them to another location.  They will easily become disorientated if you do this.  It is better if you can put them somewhere that they can easily recognise, such as near the food dishes, for example.

    Try to find toys which make a noise or have a definite smell for your blind cat.   They will still like to play, but may not know how to play with some toys.  Catnip impregnated toys, crinkly foil balls, and  some interactive toys which make a noise are perfect for them.  They may also enjoy interacting with other cats in the household, but it could be hard for the blind cat as they will not be able to see the other cats coming. 

    Supervision may be a good idea at first, particularly if your cat has recently become blind, or you have a new feline addition to the household.  And make sure they can hear you coming too; don’t startle them by arriving silently and picking her up.

  • The usual answer to this question is ‘no’.  Blind cats will not be able to see dangers, and could easily fall, be attacked by other animals, or be hit by a car.  They are far safer indoors. 

    However, there may be exceptions to this rule.  If you have an enclosed garden, you may be able to let your blind cat out safely.  You will need to help them explore, and teach them where dangers such as steps and prickly plants are.  You will also need to ensure that they can find their way back indoors.