The possibility of blindness in Maine Coon cats hasn’t made this particular cat breed any less popular. This breeds ever increasing popularity is likely due to their large size, overtly friendly nature, and tendency to like companionship and bonding with their owners. So what causes Maine Coon blindness, and how can it be avoided and managed? Keep reading to find out!
Blindness in Maine Coon cats is very rare. Common Maine Coon eye problems include: conjunctivitis, cataracts, glaucoma, viruses, inflammation, and retinal detachment. Owners can limit the chance of Maine Coon eye issues, by ensuring their cat is fully vaccinated.
Even though Maine Coons are not prone to becoming blind, they have the same chance of getting a sickness that affects their eyesight, just like any other pet with two eyes. Therefore, it is critical that owners read this article fully, to understand what to do in these cases of Maine Coon blindness, in order to improve their cat’s health and quality of life.
Maine Coon Eyes
The Maine Coon cat is a natural breed that originated in the state of Maine, in the United States, several centuries ago. Whilst the exact date of the breeds first appearance is not clear, the breed is known to have been around since colonial times. There are many fantastic stories about their origins, but none of them has ever proved to be true. If you want to learn more about the Maine Coons origins, click here for my article.
A Maine Coons eyes are oval, and usually green or golden in color. On rare occasions though, a Maine Coon can have blue eyes. If their eyes are blue, their coat has to have white color in it.
Another rare occurrence, is when the Maine Coon has ‘odd-eye’. Maine Coon ‘odd eye’ is simply when the cat’s eye colors are not the same, but two different colorings.
For more information on Maine Coon eyes, checkout my article “Maine Coon Eye Facts“.
Maine Coon Cat Blindness
A Maine Coon’s eyes are very different to that of a human eyes, due to their large iris, and vertical pupil. However, both types of eyes are made up of the same parts:
- Optic Nerve
Nevertheless, there are differences in the images that both humans and cats are able to perceive with their respective eyes. On the positive side, Maine Coons can clearly observe objects at night, and have a greater angle of vision. On the negative side, they detect a smaller range of colors than humans do, and with much less detail.
In general, Maine Coons are not prone to getting any specific type of eye illness. However, the following factors may cause Maine Coon blindness during any point of a cats life:
When the Maine Coon loses its sight in a short period of time, it goes through an initial state of adaptation to its new problem. With time, the cat will learn to compensate, by using its other senses. Blind Maine Coon cats eventually learn to live an almost normal life.
How To Tell If Your Maine Coon Cat Is Blind
The best way to know if your cat is blind is by taking it to get a checkup with a professional veterinarian. However, there are several tests that you can try at home, before you take this action:
|Move furniture||Temporarily move the furniture within a room your cat is in, to see if the Maine Coon cat is able to move around without bumping into anything.|
|Wave your hand in front of cat’s eyes||Wave your hand slowly in front of the Maine Coon’s eye, to see if they blink|
|Encourage cat to play with cotton wool bud||Throw a ball of cotton wool on the floor, in front of your cat, and watch to see if they notice it, and/or reacts to it|
|Use a flashlight, to see if cat reacts||Turn a flashlight on in front of their face to check if the cat turns its head away, and if the pupils contract|
When the loss of sight is starting, the Maine Coon is not used to it. Sometimes, you can detect Maine Coon blindness by observing certain changes in the cat’s behavior, during its regular life:
- Cat crashes against objects and furniture
- Maine Coon jumps without reaching the target
- Cat constantly falls down
- Cat moves as little as possible
- Maine Coon has uncommon eye dilatation
If the cat is accustomed to move around the house and starts losing its sight all of a sudden, it will start bumping into everything. It might not get hurt badly in most occasions, but something heavy that was places in a high position might drop down and hit it.
Another problem is that the Maine Coon will have a hard time calculating distances. This manifests as a decline in its jumping skills. Instead of seeing the cat jumping from one surface and arriving to another one successfully, it will be seen missing the target constantly and getting hit.
c) Falling Over
The problem with calculating distances is also evident by the cat’s tendency to fall down frequently. It will start having trouble to get down to the floor from high altitudes. It might try to find objects to slowly get to the floor or start meowing for help while not knowing what to do.
d) Less Movement
All of these symptoms make the cat feel insecure and thus, move very little during the day. Its interest in not getting hurt will lead to a lack of physical activity, which is bad for the cat’s health because it needs to exercise. At this point it is evident that something is happening to the Maine Coon.
e) Eye Dilation
One last aspect that can lead to concluding that something is wrong with the Maine Coon’s eyesight is the dilatation of the eyes. These will not respond to light in a normal way. The way they look will vary, depending on the specific disease, but they usually look clearly abnormal. Perhaps, the pupils could look huge and round, leaving a very narrow iris around it.
Causes Of Blindness In Maine Coon Cats
If you keep your Maine Coons vaccinations opportunely you will avoid many sicknesses, including those related to the eyes.
Some of the sicknesses that cause Maine Coon blindness are:
- eye infection
- detached retina
Conjunctivitis is the swelling of certain parts of the cat’s eye, caused by bacteria or viruses.
The common symptoms are:
- Running fluid from the eye
- Rubbing the eye with the paw
b) Eye Infection
An eye infection can cause many problems in the cat’s eye and has to be addressed immediately.
The common symptoms are:
- Dilated pupils
- Change of color in the eye
- Squinting the eye
- Rubbing the eye with a paw constantly
Trauma are injuries in the eye can cause blindness. The common symptoms are:
- Scratch on the cornea
- Watery eye
- Excessive blinking.
Glaucoma is when the fluid inside the cat’s eyeball does not drain properly and the excessive pressure created adds pressure in the optical nerve.
The common symptoms are:
- Cloudiness on the eye
- Abnormal behavior of the pupils
- Enlargement of the eyeball
- Constant squinting
Cataracts are caused when the eye lens thickens and does not let light go through effectively.
The common symptom is:
- Appearance of a light gray area in the center of the pupil.
f) Detached Retina
Detached retina occurs when the retina separates from the back part of the eyeball.
The main symptoms are:
- Inaccurate mobility of the cat and pupils do not react to light.
What Can You Do When Your Cat Goes Blind?
If your cat goes blind, it is recommended that you take it to the veterinarian, to see if the blindness can be cured. In case that it can’t be reversed, you must take care of it. They do not need a lot of attention from their owners because they can use the rest of their senses. As a matter of fact, they are so effective that in some cases the veterinarian discovers that a cat is actually blind before the owners themselves.
These are some of the things that can be done in order to help the blind Maine Coon live its life in a more normal way:
- do not move the furniture from its original place
- give the cat its own room, if possible
- remove doggy doors
- block open stairwells
- protect them from aggressive animals
- do not let it get to the road
- do not let it go far away
- do not leave it on tall surfaces
- play with them using toys that make noise
In order to help the blind cat, it is important to keep the furniture in the same place so that the cat can memorize where everything is found and move around the house on its own. This will be very helpful because if you move things around, the cat can get confused or bump into them.
b) Cats Environment
It is advisable to give the cat its own room with all its necessary things, like: bed, water bowl, toys, etc. This can be its safe place to relax. Whenever it feels tired or confused it can go there, where it can find everything it needs in order to survive. You can even leave a certain odor that the cat recognizes as its room.
c) Dog And Cat Flaps
All the doggy doors, and cat flaps in the house have to be removed because they are terrible for blind cats. The cat could leave the house without anybody noticing it and get lost or killed. It can also slip on its way out. By removing these doors, the cat’s life will be a lot safer.
Open stairwells have to be blocked because a blind cat cannot measure height anymore. When you have a blind Maine Coon, they can become a source of major problems inside the house. It may seem like an exaggeration, but by simply blocking them, the cat will be safer.
e) Aggressive Animals
Blind Maine Coons need to be protected from aggressive animals. This is extremely important because the blind cat will not know who is the aggressive animal, how big it is, where it is attacking from, at what speed, etc. Being blind is a huge handicap and a danger during an animal fight and these must always be avoided.
f) Road Safety
If the Maine Coon is outside, see that it does not go to the road where a car can hit it. The Maine Coon will be safer inside the house. However, if is feels very bored and you want to take it out for a while, watch at all moments to keep it from reaching the road, which is a very dangerous place for a blind cat.
It is also important to check that the Maine Coon does not go far away from the house and get lost. Since it is blind, it may never find its way back. Besides, it will be on its own in a very dangerous places where it can easily get killed. It is safer to leave it inside the house at all times and avoid these types of problems.
h) High Surfaces
Do not leave the blind cat on a high surfaces because it could fall. The Maine Coon might find its way through the house when it is on the floor, but it might never do any acrobatic leaps and jumps since the moment it becomes blind. If it is in a high place, stay close to watch it, or put it down.
Blind cats still need to play and they like toys that make noise in order to stimulate their senses. One of their favorites is a ball with bells, which they can follow as it rolls on the floor making noise. Another toy that they enjoy is a fishing rod with something noisy hanging from it.
Can Cat Blindness Be Reversed?
If the problem is addressed at early stages, it may sometimes be reversed, depending on the sickness. For example, glaucoma cannot be reversed, but with the use of eye drops, the discomfort can be reduced. Many times, the Maine Coon is taken to the veterinarian when it is too late and there is not much that can be done anymore.
For more information on Maine Coon Eye health issues, checkout this article I wrote called “Maine Coon Eye Facts“.
Are Blind Maine Coon Cats Happy?
It is difficult to know if a blind cat can be happy. Every cat has a different personality and solves its new problems in an individual way. When a cat goes blind, in the beginning it will move cautiously and feel confused and scared. However, a lot of cat owners and veterinarians say that after several weeks, the cat will learn to use its other senses and be able to adapt to its problem.
In some cases, you can see them moving around the house as if nothing had happened, they can even play fetch and walk around unexpected obstacles in their path. This does not imply that the cat will be as happy as it was before the blindness appeared. However, they do look happy, especially if the entire family supports them and plays with them.
Are Blind Maine Coons In Pain?
The pain that a blind Maine Coons feel can either be related either with the sickness that got them blind or to a psychological problem while adapting to their new way of life. After going with the veterinarian, he or she will make sure that the cat feels no more physical pain for the sickness. After a while, blind cats adapt to their new way of life and do not show any expressions of pain whatsoever.
Are Certain Maine Coon Colors More Prone to Blindness?
Maine Coons are not prone to becoming blind, regardless of their coat color. White Maine Coons are prone to having eyes of two different colors or to being totally or partially deaf. Nevertheless, they have no greater risk of becoming blind than any other type of Maine Coon cat.
If you have a Maine Coon cat, it will never be blind for genetic reasons. However it is important to keep your cat safe, take it to the veterinarian regularly for a checkup, and give it its vaccines timely to avoid any problems. Since no pet can be totally protected against blindness, it is always safe to take all the proper precautions to avoid the problem and to know what to do in case this should happen for whatever reason.
Whilst blindness in Maine Coon cats might cause initial issues for a cat, their amazing personality traits will not. A blind Maine Coon will continue to be friendly with their owners, enjoy their company, and communicate with them with a great variety of sounds, like chirps meows, and trills. They also won’t lose their very intelligent minds, but their strength and agility might lessen due to inactivity.