My cat has constantly enlarged pupils. Any ideas?

Dilated cat pupils
Dilated cat pupils (this is a photoshopped image by me to illustrate the page). Original photo by Ged Carroll
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I have a 7 year old cat who was the runt. She weights ~3.5lbs. A mini-kitty. Bottle-fed as her ma didn’t allow her to feed. I took her in after living with her for a year as the roommate was just going to ‘let her go in the woods.’

She is highly skittish (more so than most cats,) and it’s taken me all these years to gain her trust. She sleeps on me and kneads, etc, and is the sweetest, and weirdest, cat I’ve ever had.

I found out a few years ago that she was ‘a baker’,  as we affectionately call her, instead of inbred ( mother/son.)

She goes feral when taken out of her environment, even vets are scared of her; her tone gets low and she won’t allow touching & forgets who her protectors are.

As she’s so tiny, we’ve always referred to her as being ‘all eyes and whiskers.’ It wasn’t until about a month ago when we took in a stray (doppelgänger, but growing,) that I realized her constantly enlarged pupils weren’t normal. (at first I thought something was wrong with the other cat.) Then it slowly dawned on us that her vision may be compromised. She’s clumsy, but so are we, so we always joked she took after us.

Big, round, black pupils. All the time. When calm, loving, active, spazzing, half-asleep.I’m afraid the vet brings so much trauma (lasts for days. & vets have to ‘gas her’ to get near,) so I don’t subject her to visits unless she’s sick, which she rarely has been. She does not adapt to change well.

She seems to be in good health, and is a loving sweetheart, and I am also very poor right now, so unless she showed signs of illness, I wouldn’t be able to take her to the vet (& she’s ‘flagged’ at local vets.)

However, this pupil thing has me questioning her vision. She doesn’t walk into walls but she misses jumps and is timid navigating.

Any ideas? Could this be from the inbreeding & not a sign of blindness? She’s always been this way, since she was months old.

Thanks, Miss Ashleigh

Hi, thanks for visiting and asking. I converted your comment to a post. I am going to take a big chance and say that your little cat might have impaired eyesight.

This observation is based on permanently dilated pupils combined with relative clumsiness for a cat and the fact she is so defensively aggressive.

I am going to suggest that she is not going feral when she is taken to a strange place or meeting strange people. She is frightened and anxious. This makes her unsure and defensive, which manifests itself in defensive aggressive behavior (a form of protection – proactive protective measures).

So you might have a vulnerable, fearful, timid cat mainly or partly because of her impaired eyesight.

If I am correct, what might have caused her impaired eyesiight? You don’t say whether she has had dilated pupils since a very early age. When you research “dilated pupils” on the internet, both for humans and cats, the most common cause is a damaged retina due to high blood pressure. The same result occurs when researching in books.

The retina is made up of very fine blood cells. They can be damaged by high blood pressure resulting in worse eyesight. The condition is called “retinitis” meaning inflammed retina. The light receptors are damaged and destroyed. The retina can become detached.

High blood pressure (hypertension) in cats is associated with hyperthyroidism. There are many other possible causes including kidney disease. However, your cat does to appear to have the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

You say she is inbred. I was not clear what you meant by “she was ‘a baker,'”. One condition that causes poor eyesight is progressive retinal atrophy. The retinal cells degenerate over time. This can be a genetically inherited disease and it occurs in Persians, Bengals and Abyssinians.

Your little cat may suffer from this disease.

This is my honest assessment. Important: I could well be wrong. I am not a vet. The only proper thing to do is ask a vet to check her eyesight, which should not cost that much because it is a specific request and should not take a lot of work. You might ask for a quote and maximum discount.

Best of luck to you both

Photostream of photographer who took the photo above.

4 thoughts on “My cat has constantly enlarged pupils. Any ideas?”

  1. To, calm a cat that’s agitated from being transported I cover the carrier with a towel and leave one side of it open usually the door. That should quiet him down right away , it has most of the time, for me even with ferals. Additionally, I play soft very soft calming music in the car. Cats are very melodic and most really enjoy music. They each have their own preferences so you may have to try several types of music/artists. I offer different selections until the cat stops meowing. Then I believe you have found music they like and want t listen to. It’s ok and easier to use the same so over and over and better if its associated with very positive, enjoyable, and comfortable petting or playing sessions. Each of my cats has had “their” song or even several. I think it really helps ESP for ferals who can get scared off and lost easily- playing the music can help them come back or find you if you move or they get lost.

  2. Try putting some clothes you have worn in her carrier when she goes to the vet. Familiar smells may help. I put Jeff’s stinky socks in there with Monty on his last vet visit and that did help a little. He’s a bit feral too, growls at the vet the whole time.

    Also, tell the vet you suspect your cat is visually impaired. They may have techniques they use to minimize fear for a blind cat. They might approach her differently if they know she’s probably blind, not just semi-feral.


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