Cat enrichment is a fantastic way to ensure your furry pet lives life to the fullest and receives optimal care. But, when your cat is blind, you’ll want to change up your enrichment tactics a little to suit their needs.
In reality, cats are extremely adaptable, and your blind cat will learn to do nearly everything a seeing cat can. However, due to their lack of sight, you’ll want to use your cat’s other senses, such as hearing and smell, to your advantage when finding enrichment tools and resources, plus those you would provide any pet cat. To help, here are six enrichment ideas to fulfill and exceed all your blind cat’s needs for a happy life.
Teach Your Cat to Be Independent
Starting with this tip might seem odd since people usually associate enrichment with toys and food, but lifestyle changes can be an exceptional source of enrichment, particularly for your blind cat.
We can’t stress the point enough that blind cats can learn to do essentially everything a seeing cat can do, with a few exceptions for safety, such as needing to live an indoor life rather than being let out to explore the outdoors.
With this in mind, one of the absolute best things you can do for your blind cat that will also enrich their life is to teach them how to be independent. This means incorporating scents and visually impaired-friendly tools to help your cat memorize their surroundings and learn how to do things on their own.
Don’t Be Afraid to Let Your Blind Cat Get to Know Their Surroundings
Your cat will be more confident and less likely to suffer from anxiety or fear in your home if you help them learn to be independent. It can certainly be tempting to pick up and coddle your blind kitty, but these animals aren’t defenseless or incapable.
Refrain from picking them up as much as possible, and instead, safely lead them throughout your home. Cats have glands on their paws that will allow your blind cat to leave a distinguishable scent they can follow later for direction.
Picking them up will only teach your cat to over-rely on you in the home and leave them feeling scared and uncertain rather than safe and familiar with their surroundings, as they can’t properly learn where things are located. It can also easily disorient them, which might leave them stressed when they’re later returned to the ground if they can’t figure out where they are in the home.
Scent Mark Essentials Objects or Locations
Your blind cat can create distinct scent paths throughout the home with their feet, as well as glands on the flank of their body, face, and head.
Scent-marking essential objects and locations in the home is not only enriching for them but will also help your cat with their independence.
How to Scent Mark Objects in Your Home for a Blind Cat
There are a few ways you can do this. You can either entice your blind cat to mark an area themselves, or you can place cat-friendly objects near important locations to help them distinguish and find them more easily.
Enticing Your Cat to Leave Its Mark
A great way to entice your blind cat to scent mark specific locations is to place scratch mats and posts next to each. Not only are these sources of enrichment and entertainment in themselves, but scratching them will cause your cat to leave behind the scent in their paws they use for trails around the house.
Lead the Way with Clues
An alternative method would be to place cat-friendly objects near those locations that will pique your cat’s interest and allow them to associate that scent with a specific room or object. Cat-friendly grasses like these, such as rye, barley, oat, or wheat seeds are great choices.
Again, these plants are a source of enrichment in themselves as your cat will enjoy safely munching on them but placing them in planters around the home will help them navigate better as well.
Switch to a Cat Fountain
This is a great source of enrichment for your blind cat as the sound of the flowing water from the fountain serves two purposes.
- Stimulation and comfort. For one, cats find cat fountains stimulating because they can watch the water flow while drinking. Although your blind cat can’t see the water, the sound of its movement is still a source of stimulation for them and can help stave off boredom.
- A more enjoyable way to drink. Most cats actually prefer to drink out of these devices because they simulate more natural water sources, such as running rivers or streams.
- A familiar sound to lead the way. Another reason the sounds of a cat fountain are enriching and helpful is that they can function as a sort of beacon for your blind cat to help them more easily find their food and water. Cats have an incredibly advanced sense of hearing that surpasses that of humans and even rivals a dog’s hearing. Therefore, your blind cat will definitely pick up on the sounds of its cat fountain.
Of course, if you stick to a regular bowl, your blind cat will still be able to memorize where it is and even locate it through smell. That’s right! Cats can smell the chemicals within tap water, which is especially important for blind cats as their sense of smell is much stronger.
The Best Blind Cat Toys
Toys are something every cat should have for enrichment, and plenty of them. There is no such thing as too many toys for your cats, and it helps to have a wide selection of diverse options that you can rotate to keep them occupied and moving.
Since all cats need toys to keep boredom at bay and burn their excess energy, there are a vast array of options; the trick is knowing which would be best for your blind cat.
In reality, your blind cat will enjoy practically any toy a seeing cat would use. However, for the purposes of enrichment, the toys that will be the most fun and stimulating for your blind cat are those that really play on their remaining senses. The best options are those that play on multiple senses at once.
Toys for Sense of Smell and Taste
For the owner who wants a toy that will play towards your cat’s sense of smell, opt for catnip or valerian toys. These often come in the form of a stuffed animal where you insert the scent through an internal pouch.
These toys can also be great sources of taste enrichment if you allow your blind cat to eat the plants. Just remember to provide catnip and valerian root in moderation, as excessive amounts can cause stomach aches, vomiting, and other health issues.
Toys for Sense of Hearing
If you want toys that will pique your cat’s sense of hearing, buy a bunch of toys that make pleasing sounds, like a bell.
A wide range of balls and stuffed animals have bells inside, but we highly recommend you also purchase a cat wand toy equipped with a bell for a fun and active experience you can both share.
Another option is to purchase crinkly toys that will crackle whenever your cat plays with them. Their sound is loud and distinct enough to be interesting to your blind cat without being overly-stimulating like some sound-based toys.
Note: Try not to purchase toys that make loud, startling noises that could frighten your blind kitty. There are certainly some fun electric toys, but if your blind cat seems wary or afraid of it, you’re better off finding a more pleasing option.
Toys for Sense of Touch
The last sense is probably the one cat owners, or all pet owners, forget the most. When your cat is without a sense, like their vision, every other sense is heightened, and touch is no different.
To help stimulate your blind cat’s sense of touch, try to purchase toys with interesting textures. These can range from the rough material of a straw ball or scratchpad to the squishiness of a sponge ball to the furry exterior of a stuffed animal.
There are also some amazing toys known as wellness or massage centers that will have a wide range of features your cat can lay on, scratch, or even chew all in one.
Cats with blindness can still live a great life. They can do things that other cats do, too. This is because they rely on other senses to navigate the world around them: touch, hearing, taste and smell. In this blog post I’ve provided some tips for how you can enrich your blind cat’s life by using these senses more effectively! If any of these sound like something that could benefit your furry friend please share them with us on social media. We are committed to helping blind cats lead a happy and healthy lifestyle in spite of their disability.
Blind Cat FAQs
How is a blind cat’s behaviour different from a sighted cat?
While some blind cats are more active than their sighted counterparts, others may be lazier. If your cat seems to have lost interest in food you can try adding a texture to the surface of his bowl with things like cheese or wet canned food so that he can feel it and know where his food is.
What about blind cats and the outdoors?
The outdoors is not a safe place for your blind cat because your cat won’t be able to see oncoming traffic, people and other animals. If you do let your blind cat outside make sure they are in a contained area with nothing that could harm them and you put them on a tether.
How do I introduce other cats to my blind cat?
First you should introduce the blind cat to other cats inside of your home. You can do this by placing a cloth with another cat’s scent on it under their food dish for about two weeks. Then you should bring them together in an enclosed space like a bathroom or bedroom and let them get accustomed to one another’s smell before letting them interact face-to-face.
How do blind cats navigate in their environment?
A blind cat’s sense of smell is a key to getting around. Cats have scent glands in their cheeks, on the pads and toes of their feet as well as on the top of their tail. They also utilize two kinds of whiskers, long hairs that grow below and above each eye to tell where objects are.
How do I introduce my adopted blind cat to my home?
When you first bring your blind cat into their home, it is important to make sure they have lots of time and space for acclimation. Put them in an area they are familiar with such as a bathroom or bedroom and let them get acclimated to their surroundings before letting the cat roam free.
How do I play with my blind cat?
You can play with your blind cat as you would a normal cat. They enjoy playing with toys that stimulate their sense of smell, hearing and touch. Balls filled with catnip or other scented items will make your blind cat’s nose work hard.
How can I train my blind cat?
Use a clicker for the best results. Pair the clicker with a tasty treat and then you can use it to capture and the behaviour you wish your cat to repeat.