Basic Obedience Skills will make a Difference

Question:
I have to ask, how do you improve the quality of life for a blind cat?

Dr. Nichol:
I am so glad you are caring for this special needs kitty. You can have fun teaching her to follow your lead without hiring a Seeing Eye dog for her.

Start with the highest value cat treat, held just a few inches in front of your kitty’s nose. Slowly make a front-to-back arc over her head toward her shoulders. As her nose follows the scent of beluga caviar her neck will arch back and her rear end will begin to sink toward the floor. As this occurs say her name, followed by the “sit” command. Then give her the food. Repeat this several times and then end the session. Brief classes can be held as often as every 20 minutes.

Early in this phase your cat can have the treat for just beginning the sitting motion but after she’s clear on the concept withhold the snack until her cheeks are a bit closer to the floor. It’s OK to give her a hint by starting the food arc over her head. When she’s reached this level of skill, hold out until her derriere is even closer to the floor. Ultimately, she can only get the prize for completing the job with just the command.

For a masters degree you can teach your cat to come. Hold the treat in front of her nose and, as she gets up to approach it, say her name followed by “come”. As she catches on you can hold the food progressively farther from her nose when giving the command. With patience she will learn to reliably track your voice and come reliably from greater distances.

Even a visually challenged kitty should be gainfully employed. Rather than feeding her from a bowl you can provide her daily ration in food toys. She will apply her instinctive foraging skills to extracting her sustenance just like a real cat. She will be a content kitty with a genuine purpose in life. It won’t even matter that she’s blind. You will also have a pet who can perform for your friends, making you look very smart indeed.