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Old 02-09-2013, 03:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default cat going blind

So my wonderful Siamese cat is acutely ill as he recovers from a [unexpected] surgery.

I noticed recently that his eyes were super dilated, and shining a light in them only caused them to constrict a little - still way too large. When he tried to drink out of his fountain, I noticed he was missing the fountain & getting his nose wet (we've had this fountain for years, so this is new behavior). I thought it was just because his eyes were dilated, but now his symptoms are getting worse - I can literally put my finger right up to his eye & he doesn't flinch. He can move around the apartment - waterbowl, cat litter, window, so he has some light/space perception.

The vet said Calyx was hypertensive in surgery, and he is a nervous cat, so he thought he may have had bilateral retinal detachment due to an acutely high blood pressure. This makes sense (that he can't see and therefore his eyes are dilated, rather than the other way around)

In any case, do any of you have semi-blind cats? What are the best ways to help them? I have a bad suspicion he's going to stay blind. I have an automatic cat feeder (when he starts eating again) so he'll hear the food when it hits the bowl, and I have a cat-drinking fountain (that he can also hear, but has trouble using right now - he can't find the stream). What works/doesn't work?

Thanks
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Calyx, one of my cats has been blind for about 4 or 5 years now. If Calyx has high blood pressure, it's a pretty good bet that it caused retinal detachment, which led to his blindness. That's what happened to my Margaux. Unfortunately, the chances that a cat who's already blind to that point will regain his eyesight are pretty small. My vet said Margaux may have a little peripheral vision, but that's it. She has some light perception; space I'm not so sure about.

Calyx has probably memorized the locations and distances in your house if he's not having trouble finding his food/water/litter. Obviously, it's important to not move furniture. If I come in and put groceries or packages on the floor, I make noise so that she knows that there's something taking up what's usually empty space. I have hardwood floors and a short set of stairs to the front door, and Margaux used to fall down the stairs every now and then. I'd just hear "thump thump". I got those little carpet strips that you can put on each step, and I put one at the top of the stairs too, so that she'd know when she came to the edge.

I leave the hallway light on at night and sometimes during the day too if I know I'm going to be home late.

Sometimes, her distance judgment is off by a couple of inches, and she'll just bump into everything. I've taken to saying "be careful! be careful!" when she's about to walk into something. It's taken a while, but she now understands that this is a warning, and she'll slow down or stop and then proceed with caution.

I'm assuming that your vet put him on meds? My cats (both are hypertensive; only one is blind) are both taking Norvasc. The blind one was on the generic for Norvasc, and it didn't seem to be doing anything for her blood pressure, let alone her sight. When I moved and got a new vet, she told me that Norvasc was one of the meds for which many people found the generic completely ineffective. It's expensive though. The blood pressure is normal for both now, but I don't think Margaux's sight has really improved. Maybe just a tiny bit, because sometimes she seems to react to motion. But she can't see things that are right in front of her. Hence, the sad little bumps that I hear every now and then.

I don't have a fountain, so I can't suggest anything there. I'll bet he'll find the stream on his own with a little exploration though. You might try tapping something where the stream is so he can follow his ears.

I can't think of anything else at the moment, other than to give lots of love and attention. Margaux was never a lap cat, but since she went blind, she's become much clingier and seems to want more affection - maybe to feel more secure.

I feel very bad for her sometimes, and sometimes terribly guilty for not realizing what was going on until she was already nearly totally blind. But other than a weird ailment that she's had recently, she seems generally happy and still even plays. She can't really chase, but if I wave a wand toy, especially one that has a bell on it, in front of her, she senses the motion and will try to grab it. She seems to have adapted well - maybe better than I have!

Last edited by spirite; 02-09-2013 at 03:35 AM.
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spirite View Post

Margaux was never a lap cat, but since she went blind, she's become much clingier and seems to want more affection - maybe to feel more secure.

I feel very bad for her sometimes, and sometimes terribly guilty for not realizing what was going on until she was already nearly totally blind. But other than a weird ailment that she's had recently, she seems generally happy and still even plays. She can't really chase, but if I wave a wand toy, especially one that has a bell on it, in front of her, she senses the motion and will try to grab it. She seems to have adapted well - maybe better than I have!
hi calyx and spirite,

diotima will be sixteen in june, and she is almost completely blind. it may have started as early as 2007, because she didn't want to play wih the laser pointer (which i thought was weird because it was her favorite toy) and didn't eat treats, and i think it's because they were the same color as the carpet and she couldn't see them.

i didn't even know her sight was failing until she was about 14 and my vet said something. obviously it wasn't that bad a year before, and i don't think she's 100% yet but it's pretty bad. i felt guilty too but i really never thought about her losing her sight. she has hyperthyroidism and was diagnosed at 14 but as soon as she was regulated on methimazole, she doesn't have liver or kidney problems and no high blood pressure so it's kind of a mystery.

she has always been my lap cat but it has really increased to the point that she has to be sitting on my lap no matter where i am. she has also developed a really ugly meow--it kind of sounds hoarse for a couple of times and then it's okay but much crankier and demanding than it ever was before.

she gets up on the tub and if she falls in (no water) when i'm p'ing, i have to get her out. if she's on the edge and i pick her up, she screams like i'm going to drop her: no matter how many times i've done it and never dropped her. she has no problem jumping up on the bed, but she hesitates a lot when jumping down. i borrowed a step stool for the bed but she wouldn't use it. it was metal and rubber, so i've considered one of those furry carpeted ones at walgreens. other than that, she has memorized where everything is, never misses the litter box, and knows where the water and food is.

she had some teeth pulled when she was about 8 so she doesn't eat as quickly as the other cats, so there are times i hold her and her food so she can eat undisturbed and no one steals it. she still plays too, it just has to dangled over her if it's a feather, and the sparkly ones don't really interest her. other than that, i can't really think of anything else. i guess just watch her and see how you can accommodate her. i see diotima bump into the wall sometimes but she's going very slowly so it's not like she bashes it. she's like one of those toys that touch the wall, back up and go the other way.
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Old 02-09-2013, 08:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Cats can and do adapt to blindness. Here's particularly sweet story.

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Old 02-10-2013, 12:21 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you to all three of you. This all helps. I feel absolutely horrible/guilty about it all. Going from having vision to blindness in the matter of a few days is probably REALLY traumatic. I hate that I can't explain it to him.

The comforting thing is that it sounds & looks like he may adapt & has a chance at being happy. I suspect that with time he (and I) will adjust, just as your kitties did.

Also, thank you Spirite for the tip about the stairs - I blocked mine off as soon as I read that. Mine are fully carpeted, but right now I don't want to take any chances with him falling down a full flight of stairs. I don't quite know how I could indicate "edge of stair" to him when there's already carpet there. I'll have to think about that.

Regarding the medication - he didn't say start medication, just dietary changes. But my cat eats EVO only, and that's pretty good I think. What do you feed your hypertensive kitties?

Thank you!
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Old 02-10-2013, 01:47 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Kitty-the-cat, thanks for posting that story - it really is inspiring.

Calyx, when you say you noticed him having difficulty recently, how long ago was that, and how long ago in relation to his surgery? It seems unlikely to me that his vision would have deteriorated that quickly if it were due to hypertension causing retinal detachment - unless somehow the hypertension was a result of the surgery somehow. I think it's usually a gradual loss over a few weeks or months.

As for food, my vet didn't make any recommendations about certain foods. However, there were indications that Margaux's kidney function was slightly decreased (she's 12 1/2 yrs old), so I've been trying - for MONTHS - to try to get both kitties to go to an all-wet diet. They'd been eating half wet, half kibble, for years and years. I've also been trying to get them to eat high-quality food, grain-free if possible, just because it's good for their overall health. They're not cooperating, which is frustrating, but I don't think there are any particular foods that are recommended for hypertensive kitties.

I'm surprised that your vet didn't say anything about medication, especially if Calyx's condition was described as acutely hypertensive. Even if the vet didn't indicate any need for a follow-up after his surgery, you might consider bringing Calyx in to have his blood pressure re-checked and asking about meds. Margaux's and Celia's readings were literally off the scale - 300+. They're down to about 140 or something now.

Cinderflower, I had the same experience. Margaux wasn't having any trouble jumping up on things, and she wasn't bumping into anything. But she would pace back and forth on the couch a few times before jumping down. It took me weeks to figure that out, and then I got so overwhelmed with work that it was impossible for me to get to the vet for a few more weeks. And by that time, it was just way too late to try to reverse the damage.
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Old 02-10-2013, 02:06 AM   #7 (permalink)
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i borrowed a step stool for the bed but she wouldn't use it. it was metal and rubber, so i've considered one of those furry carpeted ones at walgreens.
Margaux used to always sleep in her little bed on my bed, which was a platform. I needed a new mattress and got a memory foam when I moved here 2 1/2 years ago. Both of us hated it - it had a chemical smell that wouldn't go away, and it wasn't firm enough under her paws or under my body (just try getting out of one of those things if you have a bad lower back or arthritic hips...) So she's never slept on the bed with me since we've been here.

I bought a new mattress about 3 months ago, and like all mattresses now, the thing is stupidly high. But Margaux knows it's a different bed, and I've seen her put her paws up on the side of the bed, wanting to get up. Obviously it's way too high for her - I have to hop to get into bed. I bought a set of Armakat pet steps (it has 4 steps) so that Margaux could get up onto the bed, and I tried luring her with catnip and with treats. She would gingerly put her paws on each step, spending as little time as possible on them, snatch the treat in her mouth and drop it on the floor to eat it there.

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i see diotima bump into the wall sometimes but she's going very slowly so it's not like she bashes it. she's like one of those toys that touch the wall, back up and go the other way.
LOL!! My kitchen is pretty large, and I have a relatively small table with 4 chairs, only 2 of which I use. I try really hard to move them back into their normal positions after using them, but sometimes I forget. Rather than walking around the table and chairs, Margaux insists on walking under the table and trying to navigate around 4 table legs and 16 chair legs. And as I said, sometimes her distance judgment is off by a couple of inches. On those nights, even if I haven't moved anything, there's just a whole series of mini bumps.
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Old 02-10-2013, 02:34 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Hi Spirite,

In retrospect Calyx's vision was probably in slow decline: he hasn't been as sharp with the ball/toys, but I didn't remember his eyes being permanently dilated until last week. So, last week this [awful] vet did an elective surgery on my cat while he was sick (poor decision making), and stated afterwards that Calyx bit him while intubated, and vaguely referred to a "jaw reflex". This is utter bologna. There is no such thing as a "jaw reflex" under anesthesia, but probably means that he didn't give my cat enough sedative and Calyx was half-awake during the procedure (he's a big cat so this is entirely possible). This is also where the vet noted the high blood pressure.

So I'm guessing that being half-awake while intubated in surgery stressed my cat significantly & caused his blood pressure to skyrocket, and his retinas to detach.

My cat also had subcutaneous emphysema on his head after surgery, which another vet said could have been from a tracheal tear from the intubation! Thankfully, those things heal on their own rather quickly. But regardless, I think a lot of bad things happened behind those closed doors, and my poor kitty was put through h*ll & back.

When Calyx gets better (he's still not eating on his own) I think I'll call a home-visit vet, and have them measure his blood pressure. I would feel really guilty taking this now-blind cat out of his familiar settings to a place that scared him even when he had his sight.

Since I'm syringe feeding him now, I think it also really stresses him (especially because he's blind & can't anticipate the squirt). He growls but doesn't strike, and his poor little tail frizzes
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:01 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Have you taken your cat to a vet specialist in eyes. I rescued 4 cats. Two had infected eyes which had to be removed like the cat in the pictures like Kitty-The-Cat shared. Two others had 40% and 60% sight. The vet specialist restored their sight to 100%.

Blind cats can have the same quality of life a sighted cat can. They memorize the house and run and play. Their other senses are heightened when they are blind. Both my totally blind kitties are adopted and happily living with sighted cats.

I have a video on my phone I wish I knew how to load to CF of Shirley the blind kitty chasing and playing with dum dum candies we thrown down the hall on a tile floor.

When my blind kitties got back to health I introduced them into my house and with the rest of my sighted fosters. In one day they had the house memorized and how to get out the cat door to the screen porch to the cat boxes. They've never gone outside the cat box.

Read Homers Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper. You will be inspired and comforted!

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Old 02-10-2013, 10:47 AM   #10 (permalink)
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There is a video on YouTube about Homer from Homer's Odyssey. Check it out, it's interesting.
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