Blind cat myths: the fearful blind cat

We all read them. We all know them. All you have to do to find them is google “blind cats”. These ubiquitous pieces of advice are repeated over and over again on the internet, often in trustworthy-looking articles from otherwise good sources. In this series, we’re going to take a good look at them.

Today, let’s address the common misconception that blind cats are afraid of everything. Does this mean blind cats aren’t afraid of anything? Of course not. Many cats are naturally fearful. So are many blind cats. It’s because they’re cats and not necessarily because they are blind.

1.   Blind cats are fearful and startle easily

There is a small grain of truth to this one. Small. Our blind cats will jump a little if you touch them unexpectedly. They’re still up for pets after that. And sudden loud noises will scare any cat that isn’t deaf, whether they have eyes or not. When we first brought the blindies home, all the house sounds such as doors opening were unfamiliar to them, and so they were more likely to be worried about them. These days, the lazy bums won’t even budge while you vacuum around them.

Here’s blind Loki interacting with the vacuum cleaner. Does she look afraid to you?

For you, this will depend on your blind cat’s individual character. Some cats are fearful of sudden noises and unexpected touch, and some aren’t. Get to know your cat!

2.   Blind cats don’t like loud noises

This is a super popular piece of advice. Unfortunately it is also super false. The truth is: cats don’t like loud noises. Our neighbour’s cats are terrified of fireworks. My best friend’s cats bolt from the room when a human sneezes. One of my mom’s cats is scared of the doorbell. All of these cats have two working eyes. And it’s almost expected of a cat to fear the vacuum cleaner.

This is blind Shadow’s reaction to the other, even louder vacuum cleaner. That’s about as far from panic as you can get.

What does this mean for our blind cats? Your blind cat will probably startle at (some) loud noises. Is it because they’re blind? No, it’s because they’re cats! If your cat has gone blind very recently, it is possible for them to be a little more scaredy than usual. For “established” blind cats, don’t worry about it. At least not more than you would for any other cat.

Our two blindies are a little less afraid of noises than their sighted brother. If someone drops a pan lid in the kitchen, all three cats will jump and get a fluffy tail. The sighted boy is the one who runs the farthest. They all calm down within thirty seconds.

3.   You need to put bells on any sighted cats in your household

Don’t put a bell on any cat if you can at all avoid it. The constant jingling can be stressful to an animal that relies on stealth to survive. And certainly don’t bother with it for the sake of a blind cat. Blind cats are very capable of detecting another cat’s approach by hearing and smell. In fact, our blindies often chase our sighted boy around and are always game for a little wrestling. Or a whole lot of wrestling. 

If your sighted cat seriously attacks your blind cat on a regular basis, the problem will not be solved by a bell alone. You will just be shifting the responsibility onto the blind cat’s shoulders while letting the bad situation persist. You, the big-brained primate of the household, need to evaluate why the aggression is happening and to work towards resolving it. There are countless books, articles, videos and guides available on how to deal with intercat aggression.

Blind Loki doing what she does best: sitting on her sighted brother and chewing on his neck. (Yes, the blind cat is on top!)

Which blind cat myths have you heard? Or are you wondering if something you heard is true? Let me know in the comments below!

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