Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I’m thinking about adpting a sweet little blind and deaf kitten named Huey. The poor thing needs a home terribly, but I have two dogs and a cat already. What’s the best way to introduce the little guy to my family?
Siouxsie: Sarah, it’s wonderful that you want to give a sweet little special-needs kitty a forever home.Thomas: Blind and deaf cats can be introduced into a home with non-disabled pets, but you’ll need to take some extra steps.
Thomas: We just read about a wonderful couple named Ricky and Jannes who rescued a blind and deaf 10-year-old cat, whom they named Bella, and added her to their household of four cats, two humans and a dog.
Bella: So it’s totally possible to add a blind and deaf kitty to a household that already has animals in it!
Siouxsie: But you’re going to have to start small. Rick and Jannes built a 6-by-8-foot enclosure in their warm and lovely basement that allowed Bella (their Bella, not my stinky little kitten sister!) to get used to the smells and vibrations of her new home.
Thomas: This enclosure also allowed Bella to “meet” the other cats and the dog without having to worry about her safety.
Bella: Rick and Jannes brought Bella (yes, the other Bella!) upstairs for some family time in the morning and evening so she could enjoy some petting and love from them.
Siouxsie: The most important thing is making a safe introduction, and a small enclosure can assist in that process.
Thomas: It’s going to be important for you to keep clear paths in every room so that Huey can learn to navigate around your home.
Bella: You can also take advantage of Huey’s other senses to help him learn his way around. Rugs of different textures and lightly scented candles (a different scent in each room) can help Huey orient himself in his new home.
Siouxsie: But be sure not to go overboard with the scents. Cats’ noses are a lot more sensitive than humans’ noses, and we can easily be overwhelmed by a smell that you might think of as light and barely noticeable.
Thomas: For a blind cat used to using his nose, overpowering scents are the equivalent of having a light shone in your eyes when you’re outside in the dark!
Bella: You’ll also have to learn some special ways to communicate with Huey. We recommend tapping on surfaces and using different patterns (kind of like morse code) to “tell” him things.
Siouxsie: Be prepared for some frustration, too. Blind cats tend to be messy when they eat and drink. They can’t help it, so don’t get upset if Huey comes to you with a muzzle covered with leftover canned food or if he knocks his water dish over half a dozen times in a day.
Thomas: Do your best to alert Huey to your presence by tapping your fingers as you approach him to give him affection. Nokitty likes being startled!
Bella: And most of all, don’t forget that regular vet care. Your vet may be able to give you some other great tips for caring for your blind and deaf kitty.
Siouxsie: We’d encourage you to read Ricky and Jannes’s inspirational story of bringing Bella into their home, how they learned to care for blind and deaf kitties, and how she thrived there.
Thomas: We’re sorry to say that Bella crossed the Rainbow Bridge in November of 2013 …
Bella: THEIR Bella, not ME Bella!
Thomas: … but her legacy lives on in the gift she shared with her people — and with people like you who are thinking of bringing a blind and deaf cat into their homes.