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Special Needs Cats Profiles


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Special Needs and Other-Abled Cats: Blind Cats
Steve, Blind Ambassador Cat Around Town

Steve, Blind Ambassador Cat Around Town

Photo Credit: © Wendy Grellinger

Special needs cats, or "other-abled" cats often need special care. They may have been born with special needs, contracted retroviruses such as FIV or fELv, or lost limbs through accident, cruelty, or amputation. Blind or deaf cats may have come that way at birth, through malnutrition or disease, or by other means. Some cats may have a combination of special needs, e.g., a blind cat may also be FIV positive. The one thing all special needs cats share is the fact that they can be active, loving companion cats, despite what we humans might call "disabilities.

These step-by-step profiles will walk you through many of those conditions in cats classified as "special needs"

Sight-Impaired or Blind Cats

Cats may become blind by a variety of causes, some preventable, and some not. They include:
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Tumors
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Injury
  • Untreated Feline Hypertension
Seeing a treasured cat go blind, either gradually or suddenly, can be a devastating experience, because we tend to equate vision loss in cats with human blindness. We need to remember, though, that cats are terrifically resilient. Cats don't need seeing eye dogs to find their way around, nor do they need to learn braille in order to communicate. They will use their enhanced senses of smell, hearing and touch (whiskers and other vibrissae hairs on their feet and their face) to compensate for their vision loss, so well that casual visitors may not even be aware that your cat is blind.

Amy Shojai recognizes that fact. In her article 8 Ways to Help a Blind Cat, she offers tips to make a sight-disabled cat mobile, safe, and comfortable in his home.

Steve, the cat pictured here, makes no bones about being blind. Blinded from birth, he had been in a shelter for seven months. Wendy Grellinger, Steve's mom, wrote "He would pace back and forth from side to side all day long in his cage. It was very sad to see him doing this. When I took him out, he seemed so grateful just to be touched and held. His spirit called out to me. It was time for this cat to get out of the cage and live a long fulfilling life."

Today Steve now plays the role of "blind cat ambassador about town" on his daily walks on leash through the small community. Steve has the natural ability to make friends with everyone he meets. Wendy says, "The kids stop to pet him. They have learned that if they don't walk slowly and quietly, he will be frightened and bolt. When they interact with Steve they learn a lot about compassion for both animals and humans with physical disabilities. Although blind, he is no different from any other cat or human with a disability."

Steve's story touched a lot of people - so much so that he was voted "The Most Unforgettable Adopted Shelter Cat" in 2010. Steve definitely qualifies as an other-abled cat. What he lacks for in sight, he makes up for by his role as a "poster cat" for overcoming the challenges of blindness.

Blindness in Cats | Steve's Story | 8 Ways to Help a Blind Cat

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