How to Tell If Your Cat is Blind
3 Ways to Test If Your Cat Can See
“Doctor, how would I know if my cat went blind?” asked a VirtuaVet Reader in October 2013.
Study the four pictures with this VirtuaVet story, and tell me who can see and who cannot.
How hard is it to tell? If you doubt your cat’s ability to see, or you wonder if your feline five-a.m. yowler is uncomfortable and maybe cannot see as well as they used to, you need to study these tips.
Cotton Ball Test
1) Obtain a cotton ball without your cat knowing you did it. Sneakily toss the cotton ball in front of your cat to one side. If your cat is not distracted by something else and does not turn to look at the cotton ball, try the second side. If they still do not indicate they saw the cotton ball, they might be blind.
Laser Pointer Test
2) Can your cat track a laser pointer?
“Many cats love playing with the red dot of light from a laser penlight,” says Doc Truli. “If your cat suddenly ignores the light, they might be visually impaired.”
The Menace Response
3) Does your cat have a menace response?
A what? (That sounds dangerous.)
It’s really not! A natural protective response of mammals on Earth is to blink when something is too close to the eye. It is an automatic defense mechanism that the conscious mind cannot choose to control. That makes it a good test for vision.
How the menace response works: the eye’s retina senses light, it tells the eyes (both) to blink. This is important because you have to cover one eye in order to do the test to the other eye.
Hold your cat gently and softly cover one eye. Gently, without creating a puff of air, waggle your finger in front of the ‘good’ eye. In a normal pet, the eye will blink in unison. This is called the menace response and it proves some light registers on the retina. The menace response does not prove a kitty has 20/20 vision!
The eye will blink if you do not cover the other eye well enough and the other eye sees your maneuvering. Be certain your kitty was not just blinking because you created a small breeze by the eye. Repeated tests may help.
If you suspect your cat is going blind or has gone blind, your trusted local veterinarian can examine your cat to help determine the cause and potential treatment for the blindness.