This post is part of a series running throughout Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week (September 19-25) to help promote understanding of the underdogs (and undercats) of the adoption world and find homes for harder-to-place pets.
Blind cats have it hard, and have to live life with two big strikes against them. The first strike is pretty obvious — they are blind. The second strike comes from people’s reaction to their blindness. Few want to adopt a cat who cannot see. Yet a blind cat, like a blind human, is capable of living a happy, fulfilled life, and lack of sight should not make these special cats unadoptable.
While cats are justly famous for their excellent night vision, they are also quite adept at finding their way around using their other senses, such as sound, smell, and muscle memory. Also, a cat’s whiskers aren’t merely the equivalent of a human mustache. They help a cat get around. Cat whiskers are sensitive enough to detect even slight changes in a breeze. This allows a cat to navigate even in total darkness, and explains how cats can wander about a house at night without bumping into anything. As explained at HowStuffWorks: “The air currents in the room change depending on where pieces of furniture are located. As the cat walks through the room and approaches the couch, he’ll know which direction to turn based on the change in air current around the couch.”
Of course, cats with sight have the advantage of memory in helping them maneuver through a dark house. Yet a blind cat can learn his or her way around just as well, given a bit of time and patience.
Someone looking to adopt a blind cat needs to take special care to make the cat’s life easier. If you are the type who enjoys regularly rearranging all your furniture, a blind cat might not be for you. A sightless cat needs to be in a stable, reasonably unchanging environment. And a blind cat should absolutely be an indoor-only cat. (As should most pet cats.) Outdoor excursions should only be an option if the cat is trained to walk on a lead or is safely contained in a cat-friendly enclosure. As for litter boxes, choose one location and stick with it. Making a blind cat have to search high and low for his or her bathroom is just asking for trouble.
Even though blind cats can make great companions, they are often not even given a chance. Some shelters immediately euthanize them, considering them unadoptable; or they’re put up for adoption only to languish in the shelter before eventually being put down. Yet some people are doing what they can to help these disabled felines.
Perhaps the best known organization dedicated to helping sightless cats is Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary. Located in North Carolina, this non-profit no-kill shelter has rescued over 60 blind cats, who would otherwise be euthanized, and has provided them with a lifetime sanctuary. Blind Cat Rescue recently received some needed press attention (and even more needed funds) when New York Times-bestselling author Gwen Cooper donated $10,000 to the shelter. Cooper is the author of Homer’s Odyssey, a book about her own blind cat, who famously defended her from an intruder who broke into her apartment. Another North Carolina shelter for blind cats, The Magoo Room, is benefitting from the generous spirit of a local Girl Scout Troop. Troop 1746 collected various used books, CDs, and DVDs to sell on ebay and Amazon, with the proceeds going to The Magoo Room.
Blind cats may require a bit more work than a sighted cat, but they deserve a chance. If you aren’t up to the task of adopting a blind cat, consider making a donation to one of the organizations above that helps give these animals a better life.
Photo Credit: Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary — Maggie* is available for adoption. She has lived a hard life. Abandoned at a shelter when her person died, a misdiagnosis led to her losing her eyes. Maggie doesn’t care for dogs or other cats, but loves to be petted. Learn more about her here.
*Change.org is not involved with the adoption process for any of the featured animals. Each rescue group or shelter will have their own application and selection process, which may include policies against adopting out-of-state. No matter where you’re located, there are special pets in your community who need homes, too.