Friday, November 12, 2010

Cat sprawl: Dangerous sleeping habits for the blind

Why do cats like to sleep in the middle of the room
All of my cats like to lie down in the center of the room. I have become accustomed to stepping over cats while I walk, and I make certain to turn on lights before walking across the room when it is dark outside. If there's an open spot of floor, there's probably a cat willing to sleep there.

This behavior is not restricted to my sighted cats: blind Lucy also enjoys napping in the center of the room. This can be particularly dangerous, for cat and human, as she startles easily.

She can hear you coming, of course, and usually tries to move out of the way. But blind cats navigate through feeling their way around solid objects. When Lucy is in the middle of the room, she has no reference point. And when she is running or moving fast, she doesn't feel with her paws for something solid, and this can mean she runs directly into chairs, tables and even approaching feet.

I try talking to her when we are approaching her, but this doesn't seem to help. Very often, I have to talk to her while I am completely stationary, and allow her to figure out where she is and where she wants to go.

Luckily, she is young and spry, so this doesn't take very long. But it is something I must warn people about when they come to visit. Having a blind cat run into your leg is much more painful than it sounds, for the cat and for you.