Monday, August 24, 2015

Blind cat tips: Helping your kitty to adjust to furniture changes

Blind cat Lucy resting in her cat bed
Living with a blind cat means making a few sacrifices. For example, most room re-decoration projects are out-and-out banned.

Lucy moves from room to room with relative speed because I don't move the furniture around. She has scent markers on almost every single piece of furniture I own, so she can glide from one marker to another without worrying that she'll bump into something and get injured. If I moved the furniture around all the time, she wouldn't be so comfortable with those high-speed runs (and she might not be comfortable overall).

But sometimes, I do need to shift things up just a little bit. This weekend was one such time.

We've been hit with horrific wildfires in Oregon this year, and over the weekend, the Willamette Valley worked like a huge funnel for all of the smoke. At one point on Saturday, the air quality in my hometown was so bad that the EPA declared our air simply "dangerous" for all living creatures.

That meant the air conditioner/HEPA filter I have in my writing studio had to make the move into the living room. Opening the windows just wasn't safe for me or any of the critters that live with me. Using the filters meant I could keep things cool and safe.

But this is a hulking piece of equipment, and since it's typically in another building, it probably smells pretty weird, too. It's been 48 hours, and Lucy still isn't really accustomed to this thing. Here's video proof.

Notice her very cautious approach to that big, silver air conditioner? She's really not sure what to make of it. But thankfully, she has a few things on her side.

1. Lucy has a seeing-eye pug. 

Notice that Liam the pug is right there to help Lucy through her fears. When she gets a little too excited about this unit and she starts to go into a sniff-a-thon, Liam is right there to break the spell. And she gives him a little drive-by snuggle as a thank-you a little later in the video. Liam works a little like her seeing-eye pug, and she appreciates the help.

Blind cats aren't always friendly like this, so they may not always like to have friends and guides. But for Lucy, having access to a friend helps her to feel comfortable in new situations.

2. The house is full of things Lucy has already marked.

The footrest right by this air conditioner is a particular favorite piece of furniture for Lucy, and she sticks close to it as she investigates this new thing. She even gives it a little chin and flank rub as she walks by, to mark it again.

It's easier for blind cats to adjust to something new when those new things are next to things they already know and love. That's why I'd never plop her into a room with all new furniture. She needs new mixed with the old, in order to make the leap. Most blind cats do.

3. I'm there to provide verbal cues. 

Whenever Lucy goes near this thing, I praise her and encourage her. She is very responsive to any kind of noise and encouragement, and hearing me talk about this thing seems to soothe her.

Blind cats are, in general, very responsive to tone of voice and praise. They need coaxing and cheering and encouragement, especially when something is new. I chatter at Lucy almost all the time.

The smoke has cleared from this area, so I'll be able to move the air conditioner back to its accustomed spot a little later this afternoon. But with these tips, I know I can help Lucy get used to the next change, when it comes.

Anyone else out there with a blind cat? What tips did I miss? Love to hear them in the comments.

And just a reminder: Lucy's cat food sweepstakes is still going. Only a few more days to sign up! Click here to get started

1 comment:

  1. Some great tips. Though we've not had a blind pet, my mom's dog was blind and he certainly could have used a seeing eye pug :-)