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Our cat recently had a cardiac arrest and, as a result of the brain damage, is totally blind (he may get it back, if not fully, partially). Two days later he is out of hospital and back at home. He also requires a special diet and monitoring of his urine output. We have two other cats in the house, so it's important he is the only cat that has access to his litter tray. We also have balconies that would kill a cat if they fell from them. In the past he and the other cats were fine walking on the balconies.

What tips are there to help a suddenly blind cat adapt to his environment?

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Pic of him in hospital


Update:

Our boy is doing well and has regained his sight. Best outcome possible and we're very lucky to have him with us still.

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In many ways blind cats are surprisingly "normal" but there are some adaptions that would be worth bearing in mind. Primarily this revolves around providing the cat with non-visual sensory information to allow them to navigate their world.

Play

Blind cats love to play and "hunt" just as much as their sighted kin so when choosing toys make sure there is something non-visual to allow the cat to track the "prey". Go for toys that have noises (e.g. bells, crinkles) or smells (catnip infused).

Navigation

Touch and smell become all-important for this. Try to keep their things (litter box, food dishes) in the same locations as much as possible. You mention that given the other complications of your cat's condition that it's important to for him to have his own litter box for monitoring. I don't know the layout of your home but would it be possible to place his food and 'box in a separate room and use a chip reader cat flap to keep the other cats out? It might take a bit of work to get him to learn where the flap is but using scents and something textured on the floor you might be able to do this. Obviously you'll have to do the same the other way around to prevent him from accessing theirs

If you pick the blind cat up and put them down in a different location make sure that the other location is somewhere they can recognize through touch or smell - place them near their litter box or food or onto a different textured surface (that they can recognize) so that they can re-orient themselves.

Speaking of picking up remember to make sure they know you are there before you scoop them up - say something and give them a gentle pet. Otherwise you risk them freaking out!

Interaction

And while we are on the topic of freak outs it's going to take some time for him to adjust to the sight loss and this might make him a bit skittish and easily startled - depending on the cat they might get scared or even aggressive. I'm guessing either would be bad for a kitty with a history of heart problems! So try and avoid sudden loud sounds or anything that might startle them, talking to them can help them orient themselves and also provide comfort.

Balconies

I presume these are outdoor balconies? Sorry to say but you're probably going to have to keep him indoors - cats can learn to navigate an environment extremely well when blind but with the best will in the world some of that learning is going to involve falling off things to learn where the limits are - and with a balcony at lethal height that's not going to end well.

His righting reflex should be largely unaffected as it's mostly done using the vestibular apparatus in the inner ear (Fun Fact: this is why cats are rubbish at navigating and moving in microgravity - they are completely unable to distinguish "up" and "down" without the info from the vestibular system!) so he'll be fine with small indoor falls of the sort that wouldn't harm him anyway but he won't be able to see a big fall coming until it's too late.

If you want to give him some fresh a walk on a leash or a harness is a sensible option.

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    Yep I keep his food bowls in the exact same area. There's some other things worth mentioning, that you can add to your answer. Add some of the water from Tuna in springwater so he can smell the water. I also poured water into the bowl when he finished eating so he automatically looked to the bowl and found water. He drank a fair bit of it. A matter of training him to know where to find his water. – user6796 May 31 '19 at 18:40
  • He's locked in my bedroom, which has an ensuite. He is familiar with the room and is more affectionate than usual. Possibly from boredom and fear. He's a darling little soul and doing really well. – user6796 May 31 '19 at 18:41
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    An alternative to the tuna water if you want to make sure he drinks enough is a cat drinking fountain. The sound of the falling water will attract him to drink and help him find it. – Meg Jun 3 '19 at 16:22

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