Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mid-air collisions: A common problem for blind cats

Lucy the blind cat in her bed

On a typical day, Lucy spends 15+ hours resting in a cat bed. She might shift from one bed to another, and she might accept a new kitty visitor from time to time, but she doesn't do a significant amount of playing these days. She'd much rather snooze.

But when dinnertime draws near, Lucy gets pretty excited. And that means she does a high-speed version of pacing. She runs from one room to another and back again, stopping only when I put the food down for her to nosh.

Lucy is a silent runner, as her supreme furriness cushions the sound of her moving footpads. And she doesn't make a lot of yelps and purrs when she runs. So often, she's a lot like a silent missile, running straight ahead as fast as she can.

And often, the other cats are right in her path.

If Lucy was moving a touch slower, she'd be able to feel them with her whiskers before impact, or she'd hear them breathing and change direction. But when she's running fast, she misses all of those signals.

I'll admit: This is a problem that's nearly impossible to solve. Lucy likes to run before meals. If I serve the food earlier, she runs earlier. If I try to make her stop running by using a verbal correction like "Slow" or "Wait," she simply ignores me. She wants to do this, and I can't make her stop.

Thankfully, the other cats she lives with seem to know that she can't help but run into them. When there is an impact, the other cats typically make a meowing pain-like noise, and then walk away. There's no slapping, no hitting and no retaliation. They know, somehow, that this isn't something she's doing on purpose.

Lucy the blind cat looks embarassed
"I'm so embarrassed!"
Even newbie cat Troy seems to know that Lucy isn't at fault. She ran right into the old guy yesterday, and he reacted by simply walking away.

But still, it makes me wonder about putting blind, high-speed cats into homes with grouchy residents. Getting knocked over right before you planned to do some heavy snacking is hard on a kitty's ego, and I wouldn't be surprised if cats crabbier than mine decided to fight back. And since it can't really be prevented, it could mean daily fighting. That's no good for anyone.

So my advice? Keep grouchy cats away from blind cats. These collisions could come with some pretty nasty consequences. 

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