Adopting the Less Adorable: Caring for a Cat with Special Needs
Are you thinking about adopting a cat from a shelter? Keep in mind that some of the cats that need adopting the most are the ones that don’t look or act like other cats. Cats with physical limitations and special needs are adopted less than other cats.
Whatever their situation, we believe all cats deserve a good home, and cats with special needs deserve owners who can dedicate themselves to giving their cats plenty of love and support. If you have a cat with special needs, keep track of your experiences in our Cat Journal and discover what other cat owners are talking about.
COMMON PHYSICAL ISSUES,
AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Having a blind cat may be easier than you think, as cats already rely on other senses quite a bit anyway. Believe it or not, you do not have to do much to accommodate a blind cat. Sometimes cat owners don’t realize their kitten is blind for a while, because behavior like running into objects or having trouble locating things may just seem kitten-like. One thing you can do for your blind cat is to keep things like the feeding dish, water and litter boxes in the same place. This way, your cat can rely on memory to find what he or she needs.
Even though a deaf cat won’t be able to hear you, he or she can still process your body language and rely on other senses like sight and touch to understand your home environment. Deaf cats can lead very normal, healthy lives.
LOSS OF A LIMB
The most common physical deformity cats experience is the loss of a limb. Luckily, three-legged cats can carry on the same way other cats do. The biggest challenge with a cat like this is maintaining a healthy weight, so being careful with nutrition is a must.
COMMON MEDICAL ISSUES,
AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Some cats have a genetic predisposition to heart problems. The age of onset varies widely – if your cat develops heart problems at a young age, you can still help him or her live a full and healthy life.
To make things more comfortable and minimize stress, you can provide your cat with a calm, secure space in your home, away from other pets and kids. And of course, be sure to check in with your veterinarian regularly.
FELINE IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS (FIV)
FIV affects cats all over the world. It is slow acting, so it may take years for symptoms to show. If your cat has FIV, there’s plenty you can do - both before and after the disease takes hold. Keep your cat indoors to minimize stress and exposure to other diseases, and make sure your cat is spayed and neutered. Take note of all changes in health and behavior and see a veterinarian regularly.
Another important note: FIV is contagious, so it may be best to consider other options if you already have healthy cats in the home.
WHY IT'S WORTH IT
When you adopt a cat with a physical limitation or a medical issue, you’re helping the cat live a full life. People who adopt special needs cats know they’re doing the right thing – what ends up surprising them is how much their new cat ends up doing for them. Adopting a special needs cat is a fulfilling, unique experience. As long as you understand the effort that’s required, adopting a special needs cat is a great option.