In September, we adopted Delios from a local shelter. He had been brought in as a stray with a damaged eye at approximately 12 weeks of age. After the shelter stabilized his flea anemia and he gained some weight, they removed the eye at the same time as his neuter surgery.
When I met Delios a couple weeks after the surgery, he was scrawny and feisty. He hadn’t been eating very well due to the flea anemia and surgery recovery, and needed a lot of TLC. After a few weeks at our home, he had put on some weight and was doing much better. I really had to pull out all the stops to entice him to eat, but once he did, his appetite returned. We named him Delios because of his feistiness – he really is a warrior kitten!
Delios (or “D” as we call him) is the first one-eyed cat I’ve adopted, so here are a few tips about living with a one-eyed cat in the event that you are considering adopting one, or if your cat should need an eye removed for some reason.
Blindness in Cats
A cat can go blind in one eye for various reasons, including hypertension, glaucoma, parasitic damage, tumors, or a cataract. There are also some genetic disorders that can cause vision loss. Also, some cats are born without eyes, or with very small eyes that may not work properly. If you are adopting a blind cat or one that’s missing an eye, it’s important to get as much history as possible, so you know what condition you are dealing with and how best to help your new companion.
We don’t know what caused Delios’ eye injury, but by the time he got to the shelter, the eye was badly infected and not salvageable. Since the removal of the eye happened early in his life, he doesn’t seem to be affected much.
What to Look For
If your cat has foggy, discolored, watery, or swollen eyes, or is rubbing them a lot, please take the cat to your veterinarian to have their vision checked. Also, if your cat seems suddenly disoriented or clumsy, or is misjudging the distances to objects, those symptoms are also a cause for concern as they may indicate recent vision loss.
When cats lose an eye due to infection or injury, they will usually require surgery to close the eye socket and prevent infection. If a cat’s eye is missing and the opening is not closed, have her evaluated by a veterinarian.
Living with a One-Eyed Cat
Other than the missing eye, Delios is a healthy and normal kitten (he’s now 7 months old). He is playful, sweet, and snuggly when he isn’t being feisty. He lacks depth perception due to the loss, which means that he can’t judge distances or heights very well. This means that he must be an indoor kitty, and this is no problem for us since all of our cats are indoors only. Delios is adept at using a “stair step” approach to getting up where he wants to be – for example, he will jump onto a chair before then jumping onto the table next to it.
Delios will run up and down the stairs very quickly, but we’ve noticed that when he does, he stays close to the wall. Sometimes he scares us a little when he walks on the counter, or along the stair railing, with his missing eye facing out. We take care not to move furniture around, as that might pose a problem for him, and we keep things like toys and boxes off the floor as much as possible.
I’ve read that blind or one-eyed cats will sometimes lash out in self-defense at sudden movements on its blind side, but we haven’t seen that happen with D. We have seen, however, that he especially enjoys toys that make noise, such as crinkly mylar balls, toys with bells, or the toy ball that chirps like a bird.
A cat that is otherwise healthy and kept indoors will live the normal cat lifespan of 13 to 17 years, regardless of the missing eye. Call your veterinarian immediately if you notice any clouding, discoloration, or discharge.
In some areas or at some shelters, a one-eyed cat would be viewed as unadoptable. We’re very grateful that Delios was rescued by a shelter that saw his potential to be a great pet!