What Are The Symptoms Of A Cat Going Blind
If youre concerned that your cat might be going blind, keep a look out for the following signs.
- Bumping into things, particularly furniture that has been moved this may be apparent at night or in low light
- Disorientation or change in normal behaviour
- If your cat is blind in one eye, a cat may be startled by sudden movements on their blind side
- A change in appearance of your cats eye, it may become enlarged, cloudy or change colour
- Swelling or discharge from the eye
- Pain in the eye your cat may resent stroking on the head or face or may squint and try to keep the eye closed
Loss Of Vision Is Often A Subtle Gradual Progress
The first clue to vision loss in your cat is usually a behavior change. She may move more cautiously, possibly bump into things. She may no longer jump onto favorite perches, and she may not think chase the feather games are as fun as they used to be. Although you should always watch for changes in your cats eyesredness, cloudiness, squinting, or unusual pupil responsesthese symptoms arent always easy to see.
Healthy feline eyes are bright and clear, the pupils are of equal size, and the cat should not squint with either eye. There should be little or no tearing in the corners of the eye, and the tissue lining the eyelid should be a healthy pink.
Loss of vision may be due to an injury, genetics, or disease. Cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachments are causes that can result in anything from a minor inconvenience to total blindness. Vision loss is usually gradual in middle-aged and older cats, but sudden vision loss may occur with retinal detachment.
The retina is the layer of pigmented cells coating the back of the eye. These cells receive light from the front of the eye and transmit them to the brain. If the retina detaches, that area will no longer transmit visual images.
Diagnosis requires a thorough ophthalmic examination. In some cases, ocular ultrasound may be required if corneal opacity or cataracts prevent the veterinarian from evaluating the retina . Your veterinarian will evaluate the whole cat, not just her eyes.
Differences In Your Cats Eyes
You may notice changes to your cats eyes with or without apparent changes in their vision. A milky or cloudy appearance to the eyes can be caused by cataracts. Cloudy eyes can also be caused by glaucoma, a raised pressure inside the eye, or uveitis, which is inflammation inside the eye.
Eyes can turn red due to high blood pressure, which causes bleeding inside the eye.
Some conditions affect the retina at the back of the eye. If this is damaged, the glow from the back of the eye appears more intense. Retinal detachment may also be caused by high blood pressure.
In a blind cat, the pupils are usually very large and do not contract into normal slits when a bright light is shone on them.
If you have noticed a recent color change in one or both of your cats eyes, you should take your cat to the vet to have an eye examination. Your vet will be able to tell you what is wrong and advise you on the best treatment. If the condition is more complicated, you may be referred to an ophthalmologist.
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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 . 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 its often difficult or mostly impossible to reverse. Blind cats must be fixed so they will not pass the defect to their litter.
Treatment Of Blind Quiet Eye In Cats
Medical care for blind quiet eye is broad. It’s dependent on the underlying source of the condition. A veterinary ophthalmologist might recommend a change of diet or surgery. In some cases, there may be no treatment at all.
- Taurine Additives:
For felines suffering from retina complications related to taurine deficiencies, additives are the cure. Taurine additives in cat food or powder forms are helpful in raising internal levels. They also are inexpensive.
- Cataract Surgery:
Phacoemulsification is a cataract surgery. This procedure involves the emulsification of the cloudy lens with an ultrasonic hand piece. Afterward, a salt solution replaces the aspired fluids. Then, the vet implants an intraocular lens to ensure sight. This procedure requires hospital stay and home care with specialized eye solutions.
- Lifestyle Changes:
If a cat suffers from SARDS, there is no treatment. Instead, medical recommendations involve lifestyle changes. For example, dietary restrictions are a must to avoid obesity because of inactivity.
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How To Manage Blindness In Cats
Regardless what stage of vision loss your cat is experiencing, make sure to take him to the vet for a thorough analysis. Since there are so many possible health issues that can be the source of your cats vision problems, a professional will need to conduct several tests in order to properly diagnose your furry friend.
Once your cat has been diagnosed and he indeed is suffering from a vision impairment, it is then your job to make him feel as comfortable as possible. Especially if your cats vision loss has come on suddenly, he will need extra assistance getting around as he adjusts to his new life. In the beginning, contain your cat in an enclosed space that is free of clutter. This will help him adjust in a safe environment. Once he feels more comfortable, you can then increase his space little by little.
It is also highly advised to keep your cat indoors from this point forward. Blind cats are more likely to get lost, especially if their owners are not supervising them. If you want your cat to get some outdoor exposure, you can try taking him for a walk or keeping him secluded to the backyard while you keep an eye on him.
Could The Signs My Cat Is Showing Be Caused By Something Else
Blindness due to retinal degeneration can be caused by taurine deficiency in cats. Taurine is an amino acid that cats require as an essential part of their diet. Taurine is normally present in commercial cat foods and deficiency tends to be a problem in cats that are fed imbalanced homemade diets or dog food.
Other causes of slowly developing blindness in cats include slowly progressive cataracts, glaucoma, uveitis, lens luxation, and optic nerve disease. These diseases tend to be painful. A more sudden blindness can be seen with overdoses of the antibiotic enrofloxacin .
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Why Cats Go Blind
One of the most common causes of sudden blindness in an elderly cat is due to high blood pressure . The increased pressure pushes the light sensitive layer away from the back of the eye and this can happen literally overnight.
The affected cat will have very widely dilated pupils even in bright sunlight and there might be some blood visible when looking into the eyes. They will appear to be disorientated, bump into things and might vocalise excessively.
The usual cause of raised blood pressure in cats is an excess of thyroid hormone but it can also be due to kidney disease or diabetes. This is why its important for the vet to take blood tests to decide which condition to treat.
We monitor cats blood pressure in a similar way to human doctors by inflating a cuff just above the paw on a front leg but we listen for blood flow with an ultrasonic probe rather than a stethoscope. Some cats are calmer if the cuff is placed around the tail base. A few readings are usually taken to make sure that the blood pressure has not been raised through stress.
Drugs are very successful in bringing a cats blood pressure down to normal but the blindness is usually permanent. Cats are extremely adaptable when it comes to finding their way around the house and finding their food but they are not safe to allow outside due to all the dangers out there.
There are a number of other causes of blindness but these generally come on more slowly:
As A Result Of An Untreated Eye Infection
Eye infections can easily be treated in cats. However, if your cat develops a severe infection or if a regular infection is left untreated for too long, it can cause permanent damage which will lead to blindness in your cat and will also cause your fur baby a lot of discomfort and distress.
Conjunctivitis is the most common eye infection in cats and is when the infection leads to the conjunctiva is inflamed which is basically the pink membrane that lines the inner and outer surface of the eyeball. If left untreated it will lead to damage to the eye, loss of vision, and eventually blindness. Eye infections can also be caused by an injury or a foreign object such as sand getting into the eye.
Viral or bacterial diseases can also lead to an eye infection. Feline calicivirus is a contagious virus that can lead to the cat flu which can also lead up to conjunctivitis in cats. Another virus is a feline herpes virus which is also contagious and can lead to conjunctivitis. Less common is keratitis which is the inflammation of the cornea. Damage to your cats cornea as a result of this disease is blindness. Other viral infections that cause damage to the uvea such as the feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia can also lead to blindness.
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What Are Some Signs That A Cat Is Suffering Vision Loss
Clumsiness can be a sign of vision loss. Some clumsiness is normal whenever cats do something new. After all, they dont just get automatic knowledge of everything that they are theoretically capable of doing as soon as they are born, meaning that there is a learning process for such things. However, if cats start showing clumsiness while engaging in their normal, day-to-day activities, that is much more troubling. To name an example, a cat suffering vision loss might misjudge a jump that they should have no problem making under normal circumstances. Similarly, a cat suffering vision loss might bump into things even though they are moving about in familiar rather than unfamiliar environments. On top of this, they can seem disoriented while they are searching for either their food bowl or their litter box even though they should have no issue locating either one of those two things.
How Does It Happen
With retinal dysplasia, the photoreceptor cells of the retina develop abnormally, leading to an early onset of blindness. Usually, both the rods and the cones are affected.
With late onset PRA, the cells of the retina develop normally, however over time, the cells begin to deteriorate. In the majority of cases, the rod cells degenerate first causing night vision to be affected before daytime vision, but eventually the cone cells also degenerate, leading to complete blindness.
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How To Look After Blind Cats
How To Care For Your Blind Cat
Caring for your blind cat requires a lot of patience, especially if your cat goes blind later in life. âThey will, over time, learn to rely on their other senses but, during the learning curve you need to be patient while they adjust to their vision loss,â says Dr. Ushi.
You also need to stay consistent with their routines, and be consistent about where you place things around the house . Making your house safe for your blind cat is a fairly simple process. You can do this by keeping the toilet lid closed, using barriers for stairways and around pools, and removing/covering all sharp objects.
The most important takeaway here is that your cat can live a fully enriched and happy life, with or without their eyesight. So have fun, be patient, and pour all your love into your sweet little kitty!
With these few simple lifestyle changes, blind cats can live long and rewarding lives. For their safety, blind cats need to live indoors. âThey can still get some supervised time outside on a leash or in a secure catio,â says Dr. Coates.
Do not make any unnecessary changes to their home environment. Keep their food, water, litter box, bed, scratching post, and toys in the same location and donât move furniture or leave objects on the floor that they might stumble over. Never sneak up on a blind cat. Make noise as you approach so you donât scare them.
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They’re Scared Of The Dark
If your pet is reluctant to go outside when it’s dark or to enter poorly lit areas of your home, both veterinarians warn this could be a sign of vision loss. “Pets with gradual onset blindness may have reduced vision initially at night, so a pet that is reluctant to go out at night should be evaluated,” Dr. Sadek explains. Additionally, Dr. Horowitz says that pets that are unwilling to go up and down the stairs in low light, or that avoid dark rooms in your house altogether, might be losing their sight.
The Truth About Deafness
So, now you know that blindness in cats is not related to fur or eye color. But is deafness more common for white-colored kitties? Unfortunately, they are more likely to be deaf than cats with colored coats, but that doesnt mean that all white cats are deaf. It simply means that theyre more likely to be affected by congenital deafness than cats with colorful fur.
All-white cats are more likely to be born deaf because of the gene thats responsible for their white fur. However, the color of a white cats eyes is a greater indicator of deafness than their fur color. Roughly 40% of white cats with one blue eye are born deaf and nearly 85% are deaf if they have two blue eyes. In cats with a single blue eye, the link between blue eyes and deafness is especially apparent since theyre usually deaf on the same side of the head.
So, why does the gene thats responsible for white fur and blue eyes in cats sometimes cause deafness? Remember those melanin-producing cells called melanocytes we mentioned earlier? They also reside in a cats inner ear. The W gene suppresses melanocytes in the ear, which can cause hearing loss in white cats.
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How Should You Care For A Blind Cat
First of all, when it comes to caring for a blind cat, you must seek out advice from your vet. They can help guide you through the process. And remember, a blind cat can still live out a loving and healthy life!
You might be advised to switch up your home environment so that its easier for the blind cat to make their way up onto a favorite chair or sleeping spot.
Clutter in the house is also something to avoid. Keep things open and clear so your cat can move around without bumping into anything.
Finally, its prudent to give any cat with blindness or visibility issues a name tag that documents the ailment. If they happen to get lost or end up at an emergency vet, this will help whoever finds them know what to expect.
Do you have experience with caring for a blind cat? Did you see any signs that they were losing their vision? Tell us your top tips in the comments section below!
Of Course Not All Cats Go Blind And If They Do They Can Still Lead A Wonderful Fun
Your cat has a wonderful life with all the love and attention you give them, whether they spend their time prowling the great outdoors or prefer to snuggle up on your lap in the house. Despite your care, however, there are some things you cant control as an owner, including the possibility of blindness in your cat.
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