Here's some tips on how to make sure your blind pet happy.
Like humans, cats and dogs can lose their sight for various reasons – an accident, an eye infection, even cataracts. Like us, they have a fighting spirit too, determined to live as fulfilled a life as possible despite their disability.
A blind cat can climb trees and chase birds while a blind dog can shoot through the house playing with the kids just as if everything was in good working order. This is because cats and dogs rely more on their sense of smell rather than their sense of sight.
While this may be so, there will be those times when they bump into furniture, seem jumpy when you pet them or have difficulty finding their food bowl.
Here’s how you can help.
Don’t move the furniture
Your blind pet can walk confidently around your home as long as the furniture stays put. Re-arranging the sofa or tables will result in her bumping into things and hurting herself besides making her lose confidence if this happens too often.
If you absolutely don’t want her wandering into the kitchen or bathroom, cordon off the area with a gate. If you have a cat, remember to keep the windows shut or cover it with netting so she doesn’t jump off and put her life at risk.
Keep her things in the same spot
Help her navigate her way through your home easily by placing her food and water bowls, pillow or toys in the same place so she can find these easily every time.
Engage her other senses
Teach her to use her nose more often. You can do this by getting her scented toys that she can easily locate by sniffing it out. Also replace hand gestures with verbal commands or clap your hands and call her name to gain her attention so she can make her way to you. Give her a treat every time she locates you to reinforce her success.
Make your home blind-proof
Just as a mother would baby-proof her home, make sure you keep harmful objects away from your blind cat or dog especially tables with sharp edges that could hurt her.
Cats use their whiskers to judge space by spreading it out as feelers. As such a blind cat would need her whiskers more than ever. If her whiskers brush against something, she can automatically move away from the object before bumping into it and hurting herself.
Don’t sneak up on her
Blind cats and dogs startle easily so always call her name first before walking up to her to stroke her. This will help her maintain some control over the situation besides giving her heaps of confidence.
Never leave her alone outside
If your cat or dog loves being in the sun, watch over them. Drains, swimming pools and holes in the ground, even huge tree roots can pose a real threat to her safety if she is left out on her own. Either put her on a leash or walk beside her just to make sure she doesn’t lose her footing and fall into the pool.
Get her an ID- collar
Pet stores sell collars with little plastic barrels containing a slip of paper where you can write your contact details and specify that your cat or dog is blind. Should she wander off by accident, anyone who finds her can return her to you easily and handle her with special care knowing she is blind.
Get her a mate
Being creatures of compassion, some seeing-eyed animals look out for their blind mates, standing in as guide dogs when the situation calls for it. The video below tells the story of a blind Great Dane called Lily who is guided and watched over by her seeing-eyed canine friend Maddison.