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How To Tell If Your Cat is Blind (8 Signs to Look For)

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	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ, Veterinarian

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats can lose their vision for many different reasons. It can happen due to an injury or a disease, but it’s frequently a natural part of the aging process. If you have an older feline or suspect your cat may be losing its eyesight, knowing the symptoms will help you determine whether or not it’s developing a vision impairment.

We’ll go through eight signs to watch for in your cat. If it’s exhibiting some or all of these symptoms, you may need to get your pet’s vision checked.

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The 8 Signs Your Cat is Blind

1. Cloudy Eyes

The most telling sign that your cat is losing its vision is when its eyes cloud over. You may see a hazy film over its corneas. This could mean that the cat has cataracts, which creates an opaque barrier that can cause vision loss, but it could be caused by other vision issues.

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2. Other Changes in Eyes

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Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

While cloudy eyes are usually the easiest symptom to spot, you may want to check your cat’s eyes more closely if you suspect it’s going blind. You may notice that the pupils are different from each other or that they stay dilated in both low and high light.

You may also see changes in the coloration of your cat’s eyes. Look for excessive redness or drainage, and take note if your cat is frequently squinting, even when it’s in a brightly lit space.

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3. Disorientation and Bumping into Things

Cats are normally agile creatures, and if you notice a decrease in your cat’s graceful acrobatics, vision loss could be behind it. Your cat might start running into furniture or bumping into the wall.

It might also become disoriented or confused. You may notice your cat wandering aimlessly or looking unsure as it navigates the house with less confidence.

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4. Difficulty Finding the Food Bowl or Litter Box

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Image Credit: osobystist, Shutterstock

As your cat becomes less certain in its movements, it may have problems locating its food, water bowls, and litter box, even if they haven’t been moved from where they’ve always been. Keeping multiple litter boxes in your home that are easily accessible to your struggling pet can help the animal during a difficult time.

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5. Walking Slowly or Cautiously

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Image Credit: Onkamon, Shutterstock

You might also find that your cat is much more careful in his movements after he’s spent some time running into things. He might walk very slowly or with his legs wide as if to brace himself. You may notice him crouching closer to the ground or even using his nose and whiskers to explore.

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6. Reluctance to Jump

Seal Ragdoll stepping out of the cat tree
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Along with an interruption in its normal walking behavior, your cat may have difficulty jumping up into its favorite napping spots or may even avoid them altogether. Most felines prefer a higher vantage point, and if your pet recently started spending more time at ground level, it may be afraid to make the higher jumps due to vision problems.

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7. Changes in Vocalization

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Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Your cat may start to vocalize more as it loses its sight. This could be a sign of confusion or distress, or it may cry out when it can’t find you. If your cat isn’t typically the talkative type, a sudden increase in meowing or yowling may indicate that something has changed.

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8. Behavior Changes

a cat hiding under a couch
Image Credit: Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock

Beyond this list of specific symptoms, you may notice other changes in your cat’s behavior. For instance, the animal might startle more easily, or it might become less social. It may have accidents outside the litter box or follow you and rub up against your legs less frequently.

If your cat starts acting strangely, contact your vet for a full examination and vision test.

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Causes of Vision Loss in Cats

It’s natural for a cat to lose its sight as it gets older and isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. Aging isn’t the only cause of vision loss, however. There are a few reasons a feline can lose its sight.

  • Cataracts: Cataracts cloud the eye lens and can occur in one or both eyes. Old age is a frequent cause of cataracts, but they can occur in younger cats as a result of things like diabetes, inflammation, medication side effects, or infection.
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a disease that causes high pressure in the eye, which can affect the retina and the optic nerve, leading to bulging of the eye and eventual blindness.
  • Tumors: Depending on the location of the tumor, it can press on the nerves around the eye and cause blindness.
  • Injury: Trauma to the head, such as from a traffic accident, can cause vision loss in some cases.
  • Retinal detachment: This occurs when the back of the eye (the retina) comes loose and detaches, which is common in cats with high blood pressure and kidney disease.
  • High blood pressure: This can cause bleeding in the eye, which can potentially result in vision loss.
  • Other infections and diseases: Various issues can cause blindness, including optic nerve disease, brain disease, and feline leukemia.

This is not an exhaustive list of possible causes of blindness in cats, but it can be a good starting point to understand what might be behind your kitty’s vision loss.

How to Tell If Your Kitten is Blind

Kittens experiencing blindness or vision loss will exhibit similar symptoms to adult cats that lose their sight later in life. Additionally, you may find that your kitten is particularly clingy with you if it is blind. This is because you provide a sense of safety in an uncertain landscape.

You can test your kitten’s eyesight using a menace reflex test. A cat with full vision will flinch or back away if you put a finger up to its face. If your kitten doesn’t react, it may be because it can’t see your finger.

Thanks to the treatments available for blindness as well as the accommodations you can make to keep your kitten comfortable, there’s no reason it can’t grow up into a healthy and happy cat.

Treatments for Vision Loss

The treatment for your cat’s vision loss will depend heavily on the cause. Many infections and diseases can be treated with medications. Other conditions, such as cataracts, may be able to be corrected with surgery. It’s important to get your feline checked by your vet and discuss your pet’s symptoms with them so that they can accurately diagnose the reason for your cat’s vision loss and create an appropriate treatment plan.

In some instances, blindness in cats may not be reversible. The earlier you catch it, the more likely your vet can provide successful treatment.

Caring for Your Blind Cat

If your cat’s blindness is not treatable, you’ll need to modify your home environment to improve your cat’s comfort and its ability to navigate successfully around the house.

Some ways you can offer the best care for your blind cat include:
  • Keep it consistent: Try not to move things around too much in your home, especially furniture that could get in your cat’s way. It’s crucial to make sure it knows where the food bowls and litter boxes are.
  • Clean up: Keeping your home clean and the floors free of clutter will help your cat feel more confident and less wary of moving around.
  • Supervise your cat outdoors: If your cat spends a lot of time outside, you can supervise its time in the yard to keep it safe.
  • Invest in an ID: A collar with an ID tag can help you locate your kitty if it gets confused and wanders off.
  • Don’t startle your cat: Try not to spook your cat if you can help it and announce yourself when you enter a room.

Making the appropriate accommodations for your blind or impaired cat can go a long way towards ensuring their comfort and happiness over the long term.

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Conclusion

Whether your cat has recently lost its eyesight or has been blind since birth, it can still enjoy a long, happy, healthy life. Determining the cause of your cat’s blindness will dictate its treatment, and once you know how to provide what it needs, you will be able to care for your pet and fully enjoy its companionship.

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Featured Image Credit: Mahlebashieva, Shutterstock

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