You Can Learn A Lot From A Blind Cat
June 28, 2010 in Cats
My old cat, Rat, turned 18 a while back, and recently we discovered he has lost his sight. Old age, the vet says, a gradual thing we didn’t notice until it was gone. The realization was very sad and a little scary. We talked to friends who had cats, and I was surprised some suggested that since Rat’s quality of life was gone, we should think about putting him down.
I must explain that I am not really much of a cat person. I arrived in this relationship with one large dog and we adopted another small one. Two cats came with the partner-package when we merged. It has always been an uneasy peace, but the dogs have tolerated them and so have I.
But I’ll be damned — and the dogs are with me on this one — if I am going to euthanize any animal before its time.
I hit the Internet, searching for how to care for a blind cat. Most of the hits were personal websites of individuals who lived with blind pets. I didn’t get a lot of specifics, but I did come away with the feeling that it would be okay.
I wracked my brain for ideas on how to accommodate him, and I came up with elaborate solutions that would make his blindness less of a burden.
And in the midst of my fussing, I caught a glimpse of my incredible old cat.
Rat’s litter box is located on a landing under one of our staircases, away from the dogs. To reach it, Rat must squeeze through the stairs. I had been concerned that if he went through the wrong stair, he might fall 20 feet.
Rat was way ahead of me.
As he made his way down the stairs, he would stop and reach his paw through the stairs to feel if he could touch the landing. If he didn’t hit solid ground, he kept moving down the stairs, reaching in between until he had the right one.
I also figured my morning routine with Rat was gone as well. Not so.
Rat likes to jump onto the counter in the bathroom while I’m shaving. When I’m finished, I fill the sink with fresh water and he has a drink.
And once again, the old guy figured it out.
Each morning Rat makes his way to the bathroom, sidles up to the cabinet and positions himself. He then jumps straight up and he hasn’t missed yet. He isn’t much for jumping off, but that’s what I’m there for.
I suppose that in the world of disabilities, one could say that I now have a cat with a disability.
Or as my friend with the three-legged dog says, a differently abled pet.
But when I look at Rat today, I don’t see an old, blind, disabled cat.
All I see are abilities.