Like humans, felines can have vision problems. Knowing how to tell if a kitten is blind is important so you can improve the feline’s life. While being blind will limit cats’ activities, there’s a way to give the kitty a long and fulfilled life. Bringing the kitten to the vet and observing weird behavior will let you identify if your pet has blindness or visual problems.
Signs that your kitten is blind
Cats are known for being adventurous and independent beings, but what if they become blind? While this situation is challenging for both the kitten and the owner, there’s always a way to give the kitty a happy life. This starts by diagnosing the condition and seeking proper medical help.
However, it’s not easy to notice if a cat is blind since they often compensate for their poor vision using other senses. Through their strong sense of hearing and smell, many blind kittens can go by without being diagnosed. Still, there are symptoms that they can’t hide.
The following are the signs that your kitty is probably blind:
1. Constant bumping on objects
This is one of the hallmark signs that a cat has vision problems. Constant bumping to walls, furniture, and other objects that have not been there for long means that your kitty can’t see it properly. Cats are beings of habit and they can easily memorize where your old furniture is. So if you placed a new one and your kitty keeps on bumping into it, I suggest bringing the feline to the vet for proper diagnosis.
2. Unusual walking gait
Blind kittens will often keep their noses close to the ground so they can snuff their way around. It would also walk in a crouched position to be as close to the ground as possible.
Aside from that, a kitten that’s wandering aimlessly often has poor vision. Try calling your kitten and see if it will go straight right at you. If the kitty seems to be searching where the sound is coming from, it might have vision problems like blindness.
3. Excessive vocalization
Blind kittens are often frustrated, scared, and confused. This will result in increased vocalization because they can’t see the surroundings well. It will be more evident to kittens that are not born blind and just developed the condition later on.
You will also notice that your kitty is easier to startle. This is because the cat can’t see what’s coming close.
4. Being clingy
Blind kittens will prefer to stay as close as possible to their owners. This gives them a sense of safety since they don’t know what’s in their surroundings.
Moreover, blind kittens will move less and just stay in one spot since they can’t see around and they feel insecure.
5. Changes in the eyes
Another guaranteed way to tell if your kitten has vision problems is by checking its eyes. Cats’ pupils dilate and constrict dramatically when it’s exposed to change in lighting or has a sudden change in emotions.
Try bringing your kitten to a dark room. Let it acclimate to the surroundings and then turn a flashlight on. If the kitty doesn’t squint or its pupils didn’t constrict, your cat may be blind.
Some kittens will have full blindness or incipient blindness (incomplete cataract), which will vary per eye. Incipient cataracts only affect about 15% of the eye’s lens.
To identify if your kitty has a cataract, you should look for a sparkly or hyperreflective area in the lens. It would appear whitish, which is an indication that your cat is already suffering from vision problems.
6. Unresponsive menace reflex
When someone tries to poke our eyes, we will flinch or move backward. You can check this response on your kitten if you’re suspecting that it’s blind.
Try this by pointing your finger hastily to your cat’s eyes. Don’t touch any part of its face and see how it will react. Also, don’t be too close to the nose and don’t touch the whiskers because this will alert the kitty.
A cat with normal vision will often flinch or stare at the finger. Others will back off or meow at you.
You can also drop a ball of yarn in front of your kitten and see if it will follow the ball as it moves. Cats with good vision will glue their eyes on the rolling yard while blind kitties will keep still and try to locate the sound or smell.
What causes blindness in cats?
Like any health problem, blindness in cats can be due to a lot of reasons. The following are commonly observed on blind kittens:
- Cataract and glaucoma. These two eye conditions are the most common reasons for feline blindness. A cataract causes damage to the lens while glaucoma results in pressure buildup behind the eye, which damages the optic nerve. If not treated early, these two conditions can cause either partial or total blindness among cats.
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). This condition leaves a kitty vulnerable to various infections, some of which can damage its eyes. It can range from bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and more.
- Old age. Healthy yet old cats are also at risk of developing blindness. It usually occurs on purebred kitties primarily due to progressive retinal atrophy.
- Genetic predispositions. Lastly, kittens can be born blind and it’s often difficult or mostly impossible to reverse. Blind cats must be fixed so they will not pass the defect to their litter.
Coping with your kittens’ blindness
Just because your kitten is blind doesn’t mean it can’t have a fulfilled life. The first thing you should do is bring the kitty to the vet for proper diagnosis and for the cat to receive proper treatment. Aside from that, you can do the following to help a blind kitten:
- Keep their things in one spot. Blind kitties find it hard to navigate, especially if you have a large house. It’s best to keep its bed, bowl, litter box, and other things on the exact spot where it used to be. This will make it easier for the cat to find its belongings.
- Avoid rearranging your home. Felines hate sudden changes in the household, much so if they are blind. Rearranging your furniture will force the kitty to re-wire its mental map of the house. This will lead to constant bumps, falls, and added stress.
- Cat-proof dangerous zones. Furniture with sharp or pointed edges must be covered using a bubble wrap or foam. You should also block stairways with baby gates so your kitty will not fall off.
- Attach a bell to other pets. If you have multiple pets at home, you should attach a bell on each of its collars. This will serve as a guide to your kitty and it will also prevent the feline from getting startled often.
- Talk to your cat. You should use your voice as a way to direct your cat. This will allow the kitty to find where you are. Also, talking to your cat will make it realize that he’s not alone.
- Avoid loud noises. As much as possible, avoid sudden and loud noises at home that can startle and scare a kitty. Since your cat can’t see, it will be scared when a loud sound erupts nearby.
Can a cat suddenly go blind?
Sudden blindness in cats can happen, though it’s a rare condition. Strong medication and injuries can cause this. Elderly cats are also more likely to suffer from sudden blindness. Overall, sudden blindness is a rarity among kittens, unless the kitty has a genetic predisposition or is exposed to infections.
Is my old cat going blind?
To be clear, not all senior cats are bound to go blind. Many old felines live long lives with normal vision. Proper and frequent visits to the vet will help reduce your old furball’s risk of going blind.
Also, the earlier blindness gets diagnosed on a cat, the higher will be the chance to reverse it. You should always check for kitty’s eyes to spot any changes and potential symptoms.
Are blind cats happy?
Blind cats can live happily and have fulfilled years. Even though one of their senses are impaired, they have other avenues to explore the world around them.
Felines have a strong sense of hearing and smell. You can utilize this to keep the kitty happy and entertained. The sense of touch is also indispensable because blind cats tend to be clingy and affectionate. You should give them the same love to keep them secured.
In the end, your kitten doesn’t need to see to love you.
Can you leave a blind cat alone?
Yes, but try to limit it to short periods. Blind kittens can’t see danger and run from it as necessary. Also, blind cats can fall or topple objects that may hurt them.
If you need to leave your blind cat, keep it indoors, preferably secured on a harness and a leash. You should also choose an enclosed room with its toys, food, litterbox, and other stuff in it.
If you’ll be gone for days, I suggest boarding your blind cat. This will ensure that the feline is well-cared and will be monitored 24/7.
How to introduce a blind cat to another cat
Introducing a new kitten to your resident cat isn’t easy, much so if the newcomer is blind. The good thing is that cats thrive when you use their sense of smell.
Start by swapping items so the two cats will recognize the new scent. Do this for a few days until both felines are relaxed.
You can start physical meetings but always hold your blind kitten close. The presence of another cat is scary for a blind furball. If your blind kitten cries and tries to escape, end the encounter and bring it back to its comfort zone.
Take it slow so the two cats won’t feel as if each other is a threat.
Knowing how to tell if a kitten is blind is the first step in improving its quality of life. Caring for a blind cat isn’t easy, but there are many ways to help the feline live a happy life. With the help of the veterinarian, you and your blind cat will see it through.