How can I tell if my cat is blind?

How can I tell if my cat is blind or has impaired vision? I think that this is quite a good question because although often it may be obvious, on other occasions it might not. Cats are very good at compensating and the structure of the eye may look normal but the retina not working properly. In fact, most cases of blindness are not evident on general observation of the eye itself according to the veterinarians who wrote the excellent book Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook upon which I rely a lot. An ophthalmologist will have to confirm partial or full blindness but I briefly discuss some tests that you might find useful.

Blind cat
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Blind cat . Photo: Blind Cat Rescue

RELATED: Feline Hypertension – there are more articles on blind cats below.

I’m told that shining a bright light into a cat’s eyes to test whether the iris constricts the pupil is not a guaranteed test because this may be a reflex action. And it won’t tell you if the cat’s brain has the ability to create an image from the signal received from the eye.

RELATED: Different pupil size in a cat’s eyes – time to visit a vet

There are some indications that you might rely on. Normal activities that a domestic cat is involved with and which require eye and body coordination such as playing with on a ball or other toy, or jumping from a sofa might look clumsier. And if a cat has poor vision and the room is badly lit, they may bump into furniture or they may hold their nose close to the ground and feel their way forward with their whiskers which are pointed forward.

The veterinarians say that “the eyesight of older cats begins to fail shortly after the onset of deafness”. Therefore, they have to rely on memory to find their way around. Although, as you probably know, blind cats do manage extraordinarily well provided they are within familiar surroundings, which means the owner should not rearrange the furniture as blind cats rely on a mental map of where it is.

Clearly, cats with impaired vision or blind cats should be full-time indoor cats or if allowed to go outside it should only be under supervision or on a lead.

In elderly cats, hypertension i.e. high blood pressure, is a common cause of blindness (see link above).

RELATED: Visual snow syndrome in humans

Below are some more articles on blindness.

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), a hereditary eye disease leading to blindness, was found in the Abyssinian breed of cat

Primary Abyssinian cat health problem is inherited progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) causing blindness

Introduction: I am focusing on the primary health problem suffered by this cat: inherited progressive retinal atrophy which is very ...
Blind cat Nado rescued from tornado damaged animal shelter in Texas

Blind cat ‘Nado’ rescued from the rubble of Texas animal shelter destroyed by a tornado (picture)

This is such a tender, sad, compelling photograph of a blind cat who was rescued from the Jacksboro Animal Shelter ...
Is this golden British Shorthair blind. He is Pisco the Cat.

Is Pisco the Cat blind?

Is this adorable cat Instagram star blind? No, but there is something odd or wrong here I feel. Pisco the ...
Floyd Mayweather in cage

Blinded by battle, beat up male street cat finds a home

NEW JERSEY, USA: A battle-scarred, blind street cat has been given a home. This chonky male tabby has been renamed ...
Jasper - a hairless and eyeless cat

Hairless and eyeless cat Jasper from a horror movie

This is Jasper who is both hairless and eyeless. He's a Sphynx cat so that he is hairless for that ...
Samuel a loving and highly affectionate blind cat rescued from a hoarder

Are blind cats more affectionate?

Are blind cats more affectionate? I don't know for sure but I'll guess that they are because they are more ...
Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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