A deaf-blind cat may hear you approaching by vibrations of the air and of the floor. It is likely to become defensive and is easily startled. It can be alerted to your presence by blowing gently in its direction. At mealtimes, blow across the food bowl to waft the scent towards it. Such cats can never be allowed outdoors unsupervised.
Confine a deaf-blind cat to familiar areas of the house where they can learn their way around and could sunbathe near a window. A mesh covered window can provide ventilation and scents from outdoors, but the room must be escape-proof for the cat’s own safety.
When you are at home, a deaf-blind cat can have free run of the familiar area under a watchful eye; but while you are out, make sure the cat is in a safe, escape-proof room or pen with food, water and litter within easy reach (do not move the locations of these necessities, it will confuse the cat). Catnip-scented toys provide stimulation.
A harness and leash allow such cats to go into the garden and enjoy the natural textures and scents. Cat-safe plants such as catmint, cat-thyme or Japanese cat-vines can provide enjoyment. This way they can ‘feel’ the owner’s reassuring presence because through the leash. Whenever they feel disoriented, indoors or outdoors on a leash, most deaf-blind cats learn to sit still, wailing, until help arrives and they are moved back to a familiar area.
Like blind cats, deaf-blind cats memorize their surroundings, but they are doubly at risk because they cannot hear dangers approaching. Block off hazards such as stairs and fireplaces with a solid barrier – make sure the cat cannot stand on tiptoe and find the top of the barrier or it may decide to clamber over! As with a deaf cat, a noisy bell on its collar will help you locate it as it explores.
A deaf-blind cat can never have unsupervised access to outdoors or to unfamiliar or hazardous parts of your home. Make sure it knows exactly where to find its food and also litter tray otherwise accidents will ensue. Such cats, if cared for well, gain plenty of enjoyment through their senses of smell and touch.
A caring owner can think of other ways in which to help a disabled feline companion, but beware of being overprotective. A disabled cat still requires some semblance of independence to allow it to fulfill that inner ‘catness’ that we love in our feline friends. Most seem unaware of their disabilities and they do not expect life to make allowances, but a helping hand and some adjustments to their lifestyle and perhaps your own lifestyle will ensure a disabled cat has a healthy, happy and safe life.