Animals

How to care for a blind cat

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In early 2016, a small homeless yellow cat was attacked in California. An unidentified person poured acid on his face causing serious injuries and the loss of an eye. Despite the forecasts, Mr. Thomas Trueheart (as the cat was called) survived. This happy ending was achieved thanks to the work of Milo’s Sanctuary, the shelter where he was treated and where he now lives. The 32-year-old filmmaker, Casey Christopher, met Mr. Thomas when he visited this spotlight in September and decided to do something to help him and other cats. So he created The beauty of blind cats, a photographic series that promotes its adoption.

“For two years I have voluntarily portray cats from shelters. I started doing it after adopting my cat. I like to think that I can help them find a house, ”he explains to Verne Christopher through an email. “I have noticed that there are more and more blind cats or with one eye in the shelters. That motivated me to contact Milo’s Sanctuary. ” Located in Los Angeles, this shelter rescues cats with special needs who suffer from serious injuries and congenital diseases such as deformations or blindness.

The series that the filmmaker from New Jersey captured on October 8 has been resumed in various media and social networks. It is made up of images of 15 cats. “I plan to return to the lodge to continue doing so. I want people to understand that even if they don't see, these cats are still cats. There is nothing wrong with them, ”he details.

Of the portrayed felines some are for adoption and others must live in the shelter permanently. Michele Hoffman, director of Milo’s Sanctuary, explains in a telephone interview that this is because they require special care. “There are some with paralysis who suffer from incontinence. Others require expensive medications or intensive care. They are not for adoption because as a center we want to guarantee a good life and the best way to achieve it is to do it ourselves, ”he adds.

But currently in Milo’s Sanctuary 11 of 30 cats can be adopted. "We do not receive more than we can take care of, which is a maximum of 30." "We have received cats from other countries such as Egypt and Mexico, but we are not able to supply ourselves." What about cats with special needs that fail to enter? According to Hoffman, 80% are euthanized.

Hoffman, who has been rescuing cats for more than 19 years, says that a normal cat can be adopted in two or three weeks. One with different needs takes between two and three years to get home: “People doubt to adopt these kittens for lack of knowledge. A blind or three-legged cat does everything a normal cat would do. They don't know they are different, ”he says. Christopher adds: "Many times they are considered unfit for adoption and even put them to sleep, but the reality is that they can live perfectly well. They just need one chance."

If your cat collides with objects, does not jump or walk leaning against the wall, it is a sign that it does not see

A blind cat can also be a happy cat. Cats have a great sense of sight but if they are blind they will develop the rest of the senses, especially the ear and smell and you will see that it unfolds with great ease. Sometimes, you'll even forget that he doesn't see.

In spite of everything, we must facilitate your daily life at home and take a series of precautions, such as trying not to change furniture and not let it go out. The cat should feel calm, stress free and confident. We are directly responsible for having a good quality of life.

Having an animal at home is a great responsibility and when it suffers an disability you have to take this task more seriously. It is also necessary to consider if the kitten is blind from birth or has lost vision with age.

How do we know that the cat does not see?

There are a number of behaviors that will help you realize that your cat has lost vision:

It collides with the objects of the house.

He doesn't want to go outside.

He leans on the walls of the house when walking because he uses them as a guide.

If your cat does these things, visit the veterinarian because it is likely that your cat has lost vision. Look at your cat's eyes, if you see blue or white spots it means that the lens deteriorates. Other times blood spots may appear or the pupils do not react to light.

How to care for a blind cat

The main attention of a blind cat is protection. Cats learn fast and there may be times when you forget your disability. A blind cat should not leave home. Avoid open balconies, the street for traffic, dogs ... Put barriers in places that you think are dangerous and where you can fall.

You must not change your sandbox and his food of site. If the cat has become blind with age, he will know where to go but if he is already blind and you have to change the location you must call him from the new location so that he knows the new site of his food and does not stress.

Do not change the furniture of place so that it does not crash or stumble. If the cat already knows the house, he will move freely but if suddenly a table appears where there was nothing before, he may lose confidence and feel insecure.

When you enter a room, talk to him before caress, so he will know that it is you and there will be no scares. You don't have to grab it sharply because it will also scare you.

Follow these recommendations and your blind cat and you can have a happy and peaceful life. That a disability is not an impediment to give your pet a decent life, because they need you more. To learn more about special care for disabled pets, read the article. Disabled pets.

Iratxe Comas Quintero
Journalist, blogger and community manager

How to care for a blind cat is a tip for Cats, and talks about Care.

Are blind cats so difficult to care for?

Last year 137,000 animals were abandoned. 33,000 of them were cats. It is very difficult for all of them to find a home but some have it a little more complicated, such as black cats, those who have a disease or some different ability. Today I am talking about some of them, blind cats. And how our prejudices when adopting them are totally unfounded.

To start we will see a video of two cats playing, to see if you guess which is the blind cat.

The first time I saw the video I was surprised because I also thought it would cost them more to play or move. We all have prejudices until we begin to understand things, and I am the first. I had heard that they adapt to the environment but I had my doubts. Well, not anymore. Another video, blind crawling up a tree (and then down, of course, because there it does not stay ...)

The point is that if a blind cat comes to our house we have to take some logical precautions so that he can adapt quickly and be safe, but we must not pity him. Its adaptability is greater than ours. We simply have to take some logical dangers out of their way, as we would do with a baby, and the cat will do the rest. The cat does not feel that he has a disability, he simply works with what he has.

How are you able to move safely if you can't see?

Cats are very skilled at creating a virtual map of the space around them, and have a prodigious memory. If the cat has lost his sight while in the house, he will remember where the furniture was located, avoid them and be able to locate each area by smells, noises or textures. If the cat arrives in a space being blind, that same virtual map will be made but more slowly, gradually investigating its surroundings.

The senses of the cats are much more developed than ours, so through their ear, their smell and the touch through the pads of their paws can recognize the terrain. At first it will probably clash sometimes with walls or furniture but it will remember the position and will rarely happen again.

Cat whiskers will also help you in this exploration. I don't know if you have noticed that he not only has mustaches (or his technical name, vibrisas) under his snout but that he has some on his eyes, on his chin or even on the back of his legs. It has between 16 and 24 of these rigid hairs. Not only are they planted there but the cat can move and guide them according to their needs at all times. A cat with vision serves to compensate for his lack of close focus. In blind cats, even more important. With them they can capture tactile stimuli that allow them to create a very detailed three-dimensional image of what they have in front. For example, when drinking they can know how large the bowl is, whether it is full or not and how far away the surface of the water is. And also of course when walking you will be able to know thanks to them if there is a wall or a piece of furniture that can damage your face.

Another curious fact is that the length of the cat's whiskers normally coincides with the approximate width of its body (if it has an adequate weight, the proportion fails if it is overweight). Taking that measure into account, the cat can know if a space is too narrow simply by sticking its head.

This great resource combined with smell increases your ability to guide. They are so sensitive that they can detect air currents and by smell determine what is the origin of odors. Those of you who already have a cat at home, do you think that if he went blind he would be able to reach the can of wet food? Come on, I don't doubt it for a moment ...

On the other hand are the pads of their legs. They are a great tool at the time of the hunt, because remember that that little ball of hair that purrs happily while we caress it has a feline hunter inside. The pads are full of receptors that allow them to analyze the texture of the terrain, its location and the energy (and temperature) of its prey, in addition to increasing traction on slippery surfaces. They have a defense function, to be clear when they put their prey in their mouths that will no longer stir and can hurt them. The blind gate that walks through the corridors of a house will allow you to detect different textures (for example, from the parquet floor of the living room to the floor tiles) or the temperature of the area (especially if you like to walk on the kitchen countertop and it can happen on a hot ceramic hob)

Still not convinced? Close your eyes and listen. The ticking of the clock. The noise of the refrigerator engine. The cars that pass through the street. Notice the smell of food in the fire. And feel the air conditioning current. Would you be able to reach the window? Or to the bathroom? Well, if our cats hear that and much more, and smell that and many more, and feel that and much more, how can they not be capable? Yes, of that and much more.

What measures can I take to make adaptation faster?

It is important that we take some measures because our cat is amazing but we don't have to turn his adaptation into a ghymkana either.

The first, the most logical: try to make the virtual map that the cat creates in its head as stable and real as possible. If we change the furniture every day, the cat will adapt but based on shocks and trips, and perhaps even increase his insecurity for not knowing what he will find in each moment. So it would be ideal not to move the furniture and try not to leave junk (the shopping bags, the vacuum cleaner, the box that the deliveryman brought, the children's toys ...) a long time out of place.

Another also logical: avoid access to danger areas such as open windows, doors to the outside, terraces, fireplaces, stairs (at least at the beginning), swimming pools ... That a cat is blind does not imply that he will not want to investigate or lose his curiosity. If you can access a site you will see what there is. It is our duty to prevent you from accessing those sites that may be dangerous. If the cat has access to the outside it is very important that it is a safe and closed place. Otherwise a noise or an animal could scare it and that it ran out of our reach or to areas with vehicle traffic. It would be advisable in any case if it comes out to do it on a leash. Outside it is easy prey and they get disoriented easily.

We can start the adaptation by leaving a space just for him with all his things and start exploring the rest of the house when he feels comfortable (if you look, it is the same as we would do with any other cat that arrives new to a home) . If you have a room with its sand, water and food simply with smell you can find everything you need. When you feel safe in that space you will want to start to find out what is around. It may be useful to provide this room with some kind of sound mark in case the cat becomes disoriented and wants to return to his space, for example a radio on, a clock that ticks, toys that light up on their own on a regular basis ...

It is possible that at first the cat is walking near the walls. It is normal, it feels safer. On that side there will be nothing that can attack him. It is also possible that at the beginning it collides or stumbles on some of the furniture. It is normal, it is part of the learning process and we should not intervene. For these same stumbling blocks it is possible that during the first weeks your mustaches will be more hurt or even lose some. They grow again, it doesn't matter.

An important thing, a blind cat is not going to limit itself to move horizontally but as if it is not, it will want to climb and be at heights. To help you create your map also vertically we can make some sound marks that allow you to take measurements. Let's watch another video. I want you to notice the precision with which the cat jumps right where the person has the hand.

If you can detect the distance with that precision you will have no problem measuring distances to a chair, a table or from a piece of furniture on the floor. For example, we can help you get on a chair if you stand in front of it and we tap the seat. Or if we put him on the chair, we can hit the ground so he knows how far he should go. Also remember that you can determine textures so if you climb a piece of furniture with your pillows you will be able to know if you have put it on the sofa, a chair, a table or the bed. With a little practice and time you can climb on your own to any furniture or climb a scraper tree.

A great help for its adaptation may be other cats. Curiously, more patients and friendly are shown with blind cats than with others they can see. So instead of fighting you can see that although they collide nothing happens, that the cat with vision serves as a guide to the blind or that he is chasing him to play. That interaction will help you in your confidence and mobility around the house.

By the way, in the video that I put at the beginning, the two cats are blind 😉

And as for people ...?

We just need to adapt to him too. It is essential as before I told you not to forget your personality based on thinking about your lack of vision. The blind cat will want to play, and will want to be with us. Do not think for a moment that he will be sitting in a corner because as soon as he has some security you will see him running behind a ball. Just remember to buy or make toys that may cause some noise to serve as guidance, such as golf balls, dolls with some type of rattle or sound like an animal, paper balls that creak ...

Their hunting skills will also remain there so you will continue to see how they catch the flies that enter the house or outside, as some bird falls under their claws.

If the ear is going to be so important right now, we must also think about the rest of the sounds that will be in the house. You know that unforeseen noises like firecrackers can scare animals. In the case of an equal blind cat, or even have more sensitivity to these sounds because you can not see if any danger is coming. If loud noises occur unexpectedly it is important that the cat knows that it is safe. Our calm voice, or even petting the cat so that it knows that it can relax can be important in those moments. Avoiding screaming, racing or loud music can create a quieter and more relaxed environment for the cat.

The voice will also be important for the cat to locate and identify us. When he speaks he knows that it is you who is close and exactly where you are so you will minimize the possibility of scaring him by appearing suddenly. If you talk to him before caressing him, he will also be less surprised at the contact.

With patience you can even determine words that help you predict what will happen next. Every cat knows when you call him because although he does not understand the word he identifies the specific tone of the pronunciation of that word. So it is possible that with patience you can identify specific words and what they entail, such as “food” or “jumps”, which could very well be “ragutdeternera” and “lasmontañasrusassondivertidas” because the important thing is the sound and always be the same word and in the same tone ...

Visitors will also have to adapt to the cat. For example, instead of caressing the cat suddenly, bring your hand slowly towards your nose so you can smell it. That way you will know who you are and you will not be so surprised at the contact. It is important that children understand this and that the first times they are with a blind cat they are supervised and guided by an adult.

So in summary, the blind cat is able to adapt to everything if we give it some time. And we can help you by providing a safe space, minimizing access to sites that can be dangerous and interacting with the cat with calm and affection. Come on, the same as we would do with one that can see.

But although its adaptation is much simpler than what a priori might think many people do not know and many blind cats spend their lives in kennels or moving between foster homes because adopters discard them in case they are too difficult to care for. They even sacrifice themselves because they are not considered adoptable. Michelle Hoffman, director of Milo’s Sanctuary, said in an interview that 80% of abandoned cats with special needs are euthanized, and cases that come to a shelter pass years before finding a definitive home.

If you were thinking of adopting a cat and after this article you want to give a home to a blind gate, I will present three beauties that are now looking for a home. If you want to adopt them write to me or write directly to the protector in which it is located, however you want!

Steve Wonder, a blind cat that is in La gatoteca, a catcafe in the heart of Madrid essential for every cat lover.

In the words of the head of La gatoteca “Wonder is a character, you laugh with him a lot! It recognizes you perfectly by voice and knows what you do at all times. When I'm working, he usually sleeps or is with Motorín. But as soon as I see that I take a break or something, he sits next to me on the floor and stares at me to play with him. Despite not having eyes, it is very expressive, makes faces, frowns, makes gestures of emotion ...

We usually play with dusters making noise on the ground with the feathers and follows them and hunts them, and it is very clever, intelligent food toys are great, it takes them even better than many other vision cats! When you want to caress him you bring his hand and rub his fingers so that he knows that you are going to touch him and he does not fall as a surprise, and he loves that you caress him on the neck and at the base of the tail, he lies down and stretches from the Tasty, jiji.

He is an adorable and very interactive cat, and as a puppy he is, he loves to play, he wouldn't stop! He is also very sociable with cats, now we have another one-eyed kitten with mobility problems, and in a few hours they were already sleeping together. ”

And here you can see him with his best friend Motorín, also for adoption.

Chimera It is a small welcome by the protective feline Cantabria. He was picked up in the colony where he was born. I was practically stuck in a hole where I only came out a little when I heard the caretaker with the food.

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Now she is about 8 months old and is perfectly adapted in her foster home. Play a lot with your host, jump, run around the house, chase balls ...

Like any other puppy just wants to have fun and receive the pampering of its caretaker, it is very cuddly. He gets along very well with the rest of the cats in the house, with whom he does not stop playing.

And here you have it in action with your human host.

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She is 3 years old and is welcomed by the Protectora Cap i cua, of which I have already spoken to you. Good, affectionate, intelligent, very playful and very cuddly. She is a kitten that despite her visual difficulties does not prevent her from doing normal life at all, she runs, jumps and plays as one more without any problem. Love being in your skirt / chest and if you are lying down will take the opportunity to knead you until you fall asleep deeply among purrs. He has a real passion for little balls, especially if they make noise, which he plays tirelessly. He is totally sociable with other cats.

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