Few things are scarier than your cat suddenly going blind. You already know it's a veterinary emergency, but make sure you take note of any other symptoms, which can help the vet narrow down the cause. In many cases, Kitty will get his vision back after treatment.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, often is called the silent killer. That's because in people, and felines, there aren't any obvious symptoms and you can't tell if your cat suffers from it unless you take his blood pressure regularly. Not only can hypertension cause temporary blindness due to retinal hemorrhaging, but it's often a sign of kidney disease, hyperthyroidism or feline diabetes mellitus. Your vet conducts blood and other tests to get to the bottom of Kitty's malady. Treatment depends on the cause, but, just as in people, medications are available to regulate your cat's blood pressure.
Unlike hypertension, you'll be perfectly aware that something's wrong with Kitty if he experiences a seizure. Not only may he lose vision temporarily, but he'll become rigid, foam at the mouth, tremble violently and pass out. Your cat might suffer from the neurological condition epilepsy, or the seizures could result from a brain tumor or exposure to toxins. If the vet determines that epilepsy is the cause, she might prescribe phenobarbital to prevent future episodes.
Your cat's two thyroid glands, located in his neck, help regulate his metabolism. If the glands produce too much thyroid hormone, resulting in hyperthyroidism, his whole system goes out of whack. Early signs include weight loss even if your cat has a ravenous appetite, excessive drinking and peeing, and poor coat quality. Since hypertension often occurs, temporary blindness can result. Treatment options include daily medication, surgical removal of his thyroid glands or radioactive iodine therapy.
Reactions to certain medications can cause temporary blindness. Tell your vet about any medications or supplements you give your cat. For example, if Kitty recently has suffered an ear infection and your vet prescribed enrofloxacin, temporary or permanent blindness from retinal damage can be a rare side effect. If you cook for your cat rather than feed commercial cat food, or if you make the mistake of trying to turn your cat into a vegetarian, a lack of taurine in his diet can cause blindness. Taurine is an essential amino acid found in meats that cats need but can't produce in their own bodies. Your vet can recommend taurine supplements or dietary changes that might restore Kitty's eyesight.
If your cat goes outdoors, he could come in contact with poisons that affect his vision. It's also possible he could become the victim of head trauma. His prognosis depends on the type of toxin or injury, along with how fast you get him to the vet. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Hypertension
- Darwin Veterinary Centre: Hyperthyroidism
- VetInfo: Diagnosing Kidney Failure in Cats
- Aspen Meadows Veterinary Specialists: Seizures
- Mar Vista Vet: Enrofloxacin
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Taurine in Cats
- Carnegie Mellon University: Feline Seizures and Epilepsy
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.