Strange cat behavior
April 1, 2020 6:05 PM   Subscribe

We’re fostering a kitty due to COVID-19. She’s 9 years and blind. I’m not sure why she’s blind since her eyes look pretty clear and her pupils react to light. She came from a hoarder situation and lived with 80 other cats, so who knows what she’s been through.

Anyway, she’s displayed some strange behavior a couple of times in the 2 weeks we’ve had her. She starts flinching at nothing and gets hyper sensitive to any sound. She also swats at the air in front of her. We initially thought it was because she had a dust bunny on her whiskers, but it happened again a couple days later for no discernible reason. I’m not sure if she’s having a seizure, has some sort of brain damage or is extremely sensitive to any sound she doesn’t like.
posted by hazel79 to Pets & Animals (5 answers total)
You haven't really asked a question here. she eating? Is she drinking water? Is she using the litter box? If those biggies are handled, I'd say let her adjust for quite a bit longer and see what you learn. Other variables: Does she let you pet her? Does she purr? Is she exhibiting anxious behavior like overgrooming?
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:42 PM on April 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

Cats are one of those animal who have a critical period for programming the visual part of their brain (I suggest not looking at the experiments which established this).

I bet your cat spent this critical period either in complete darkness or with very little light, and does not recognize objects by sight or get much information of any kind about her environment from light.

She probably interprets her world through sound, temperature, air currents, etc. and probably swats at nothing when air currents disturb her whiskers.

She sounds like a unique cat, and will probably do all kinds of unusual and fascinating things.
posted by jamjam at 6:57 PM on April 1, 2020 [31 favorites]

I suspect jamjam has it. Both of my cats sometimes get clearly over-sensitized, especially the one that lived on the streets for some unknown space of time -- she can get freaked out very quickly and startles easily. Make sure your cat has a box or kitty condo or someplace safe and dark and calm to retreat to and, if food and water and litterbox stuff is ok, understand that she's basically ok too. Sometimes cats have trauma, and sometimes they're just lil weirdos, and that's the way it is.
posted by kalimac at 8:22 PM on April 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have not had a blind cat, but have had two blind dogs. Both would react to things I could not see-- and if she was hoarded with 80 other cats, it would strike me as very normal for her to be interpreting even small stimuli as something aggressive. Give her time.
posted by frumiousb at 9:06 PM on April 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

If she's functioning normally otherwise, I wouldn't be too worried because this is all very new to her and she's probably stressed still. Maybe put on something soothing to her ears, like classical music or some rebroadcast of a tennis or golf match. When my cats are stressed out this stuff calms them down. Feliway pheromones may also help.
posted by *s at 8:28 AM on April 3, 2020

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