Disabled and ageing cats are able to adapt to their new circumstances more quickly than most animals as cats are versatile creatures who manage disability well. If you are worried about living with a deaf or blind cat, there are certain things you can do to help make their lives easier.
Adapting to Deafness
If a cat is adapting to deafness they will begin to rely more heavily on their other senses. A challenge many pet owners face is realising that vocal commands become useless with a deaf cat, so you will have to rely on your physical body to communicate with your cat. You will both need to adapt in order to help each other out.
While it is ill-advised to ever punish your cat using your hands (you don’t want the cat to become afraid of your main communication tool!), you can clap the air near them in an effort to get their attention if needed.
Cats adapting to deafness may become mute, or call out (meow) more often and more loudly than usual as they cannot gauge their volume. They may also become more observant of doorways, people and other pets in order to stay alert.
Deaf cats cannot hear traffic, other animals and other risk factors so they are best kept indoors. It is important to have your contact information available on the cat's collar in case it runs away. It is also advisable to have a tag identifying your cat as deaf on its collar.
Adapting to Blindness
A blind cat may have difficulty with coordination and finding its bearings. However it is possible for even a born-blind cat to lead as rich and fulfilling a life as any other cat. Blindness can occur in cats due to a variety of factors such as injury, age or birth defects (the most common reason), and the degree of blindness varies individually. If a cat is gradually becoming blind they will compensate until they are unable to do so. Sudden blindness can be detected by observing an unusually clumsy cat.
Blind cats begin to rely on their other senses. They might begin to meow more, hoping for sound echoes. They also start to rely on scent and memory. Moving furniture, food trays or litter boxes can be especially disorientating to a blind cat. As an owner try to avoid these things and keep them to a minimum. It is also recommended that you don’t pick your cat up and move it too often as this can be disorientating and leave the cat wondering where it is!
You can use your voice/vocal commands to help guide your cat through various activities; speak to your cat gently and clearly. If you walk away from your cat suddenly it may begin meowing in order to find you once more, use your voice to reassure your cat that you haven’t gone too far.
If you would like your blind cat to have some fun outdoor time it is best to remember that a blind cat shouldn’t be left to wander about according to their own devices. Blind, deaf and otherwise disabled cats can get into troubling situations more easily than others. A fenced-in outdoor area specifically designed for your cat is a great idea to keep an eye on it while allowing the animal that much-needed outdoor time.