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How to Care for a Cat with Special Needs

Disabled kitten uses a full support Walkin' Wheels wheelchair to walk

If you visit an animal shelter, you may see cats with special needs. While most are able-bodied, others may require additional attention due to a variety of ailments such as blindness, amputation, and deafness. Some cats are born with these conditions while others by an accidents or injury. Older cats may be sight or hearing impaired as they age.

For many people, taking care of a special needs feline can be challenging. All of our feline friends deserve to be loved and cared for to enjoy their lives fully.

Properly caring for your disabled cat will give them the opportunity to live their best life despite their dis-abilities. And once you start supporting your pet through their diagnosis and adjustment period, you will see their personality shine through and love of life prevail.

If you have ever considered adopting a special needs cat, these tips will help you provide the utmost in care.

Things To Consider When Adopting Cats With Special Needs

It’s quite a challenge to take care of a cat with special needs, and you should anticipate that there will be difficulties throughout the process. Owners of cats with hearing and sight issues will need to ‘study-up’ on specific methods of care in fully supporting your feline friend.

We have listed below things-to-consider before adopting a disabled cat:

Seek Professional Advice

Adopting a cat with special needs isn’t an easy decision to make. Many people won’t adopt them because of the heavy responsibilities they have to shoulder. You can always ask for professional help – advice from trainers and veterinarians.

Know The Challenges

You will have to learn specific details about taking care of cats with special needs. It is the primary responsibility in committing to do your part as a caretaker for a special needs animal. And in doing so, you will provide them with the appropriate care for them to fully enjoy their life.

Check Your Expenses

Taking care of cats with special needs would also mean additional expenses. If you’re not financially prepared for this, then it would be best not to adopt a pet with a disability. It will not be fair to the cat if they have to go back into a shelter situation due to an inability to fund their medical needs. However, if you do feel that you can tackle this obstacle, consider applying for pet health insurance for this adoption. In this way, you can prepare yourself for medical expenditures in the future.

Consider Your Time

As mentioned above, it’s never easy to take care for a cat with special needs. The time and effort you have to provide are different from any other cat. If you are someone who has a lot of time available and is at home a majority of the time (and has a big heart, a good deal of patience and a desire to succeed) you could be the person that this kitty has been waiting for.

How To Take Care Of Your Cat Based On Their Special Needs?

When you care for a cat with special needs, you want to make sure that your approach is right for their condition. For example, a blind cat has special needs that are different from a deaf cat. Here’s a few suggestions that’ll help you address their needs based on their condition:

Taking Care Of A Blind Cat

A cat’s blindness may be a result from a medical condition such as feline hypertension, glaucoma, cataracts, retinal degeneration, feline leukemia, or eye tumors.

When blindness sets-in your kitty is surely to become disoriented, odd movements, aimless roaming. If you detect they are reluctant to leave their bed, help them gain confidence by guiding and assisting them to the places that they need to go: bed, litter box, food area, toys, etc.

1. Keep Them Indoors

Make sure your cat is always inside your home 24/7, unless they are in a safe fully fenced area or a cat-enclosure. It would be difficult for them to come back home, especially if they are completely blind. Getting lost would be easy for your blind kitty to do, and being found very difficult. There are many dangers out on their own including, crossing roads, predators, and more.

Consider a cat-enclosure or fenced area for leisure time outside, making sure to have a security fence to prevent them from getting out without you noticing. Consider a GPS Cat Tracker that will help you locate them in the event that they go missing.

Relieve their boredom with many different toys made for cats and puzzle feeders. This will help to keep them entertained and reduce the risk of them embarking beyond any safe areas outdoors.

2. Let Them Walk On Their Own

The best way to aid and train your sight-impaired feline is to encourage them to walk by themselves as you oversee them. This will help them acclimate to their surroundings using the scents they perceive.

Cats have scent-glands in all of their paw-pads that allow them to leave a scent behind that they will use in getting familiar with their ‘travel routes. 

Follow them and keep them within your sight to avoid serious problems. Do not leave them in high places, the likelihood of a fall would be eminent.

3. Approach Them Silently

When you want to interact with you hearing impaired kitty, it is best to approach them carefully. In this way, they won’t be shocked or startled by your sudden presence. This tip also applies to one-eyed cats since their range of vision is limited. Also, you may talk to them as you go near to let them know you’re coming in their direction. 

4. Don’t Move Objects

It’s quite difficult for blind cats to get familiar with their belongings, especially litter boxes, feeding/drinking area, and toys. It’s best to keep these resources in places they are familiar with. For example, if you leave a toy box in the living room, let that be fixed in that area to avoid confusing your cat.

Make sure to keep clutter and other obstacles out of their way. This could destroy the familiarity they try to establish. If you have stairs, consider adding stair gates.

Taking Care Of A Deaf Cat

Caring for a special needs cat

Some cats lose their hearing function as they grow older, but some may be deaf at birth, or possibly due to an illness or injury. Unlike blind cats, it’s easier for deaf cats to adapt to their environment.

It can be difficult for cat owners to determine whether their cat is deaf or not. If your cat is hearing impaired, loud appliances such as blenders and vacuums won’t seem to bother them.

Helpful tips when taking care of a deaf cat:

1. Avoid Startling Them

Like blind cats, deaf cats are easily startled. Approach them with heavy footsteps (vibration in the floor) to let them know that you are coming in their direction.

2. Keep Them Inside

Like blind cats, it is best to keep them inside your home 24/7. Deaf cats will not be able to hear the sound of approaching cars, danger signals, or other animals. Let them experience playing outside if your yard is fenced properly, or you have a cat-enclosure.

3. Use Hand Signals

Cats are intelligent and overtime will be able to understand or recognize specific hand signals. Make sure to use the same hand signals to avoid confusing them. You can use other aids to call them such as a small dimmable flashlight. You can train them by giving meaning based on the movement of the light.

4. Wake Them Up Carefully

If you try to wake a sleeping deaf cat, you will startle them. Best practices for waking them is to not touch their body. Instead, make movements around them such as stamping your foot or hand on the floor to create vibrations to wake them up.

Caring for an Amputee Cat

A senior cat in her pink quad wheelchair

If you’re planning to adopt a feline that has had an amputation, it’s normal for you to be concerned in properly tending to their needs.

Cats, like all animals do not spend time feeling sorry about their situation. And it is very likely that the amputations was a recommendation due to am extremely painful condition affecting the leg. In many cases the patient is immediately happier and more relaxed after amputation. They acclimate nicely in due time. As with previously mentioned dis-abilities your care, time, love and attention are a must. Soon your feline friend will be maneuvering about and playing as they used to.

It’s still best initially to stay watchful and guide them to what they want to do and assist with their physical needs.

Mobility Support for Disabled Cats

Although many amputee or special needs cats adapt quickly to any changes in mobility, it’s possible your cat may need support to run and move. There are many different types of mobility support available for cats including lifting harnesses, feline drag bags for indoor mobility, and even cat wheelchairs. Wheelchairs are the most common. Cat wheelchairs are designed to support your feline to assist them in standing upright, maintaining balance, and to help them exercise.

Cat wheelchair promotes brain health
Walkin’ Wheels Cat Wheelchair

2. Provide Comfortable Sleeping Area

The aftermath of surgery is not pleasing to your feline friend, so it is best to provide them with a comfortable area where they can rest peacefully and sleep soundly. This will help them relax and promote a speedy recovery. Use soft cat beds with a concaved center and insure their sleeping space is wide enough so they can move freely without falling outside of their beds. 

3. Keep Essentials Near Them

Cats may not like eating and drinking near the place where the litter box is, but they may appreciate it, after surgery. Keep their resources such as litter boxes, water bowls, food bowls, and toys within close proximity so they can access them easily. Allow them to eat freely day or night.

In addition, you may consider moving a favorite chair closer to them so they can access it easily.

4. Help Them With Toilet Activities

Like humans, cats see toilet activities as something done privately. However, if you use a litter box that has a cover/or dome remove it during the post-surgery recovery period.

Your feline buddy will need help covering their pee and poo. 

Final Words

Adopting a cat with special needs sounds challenging and full of hard work … and it is. They will require a lot of your time and patience to care for them. It is a great gesture of humanity and kindness to help a cat in need, to live their best life in spite of any physical challenges.

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