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Gooseberry Is Blind

- December 29, 2007

A week or so ago I posted about my cat, Gooseberry. Normally I wouldn’t post about him again, let alone so soon. However, in light of the events of the last few days it seems appropriate to update my earlier post.

A few days ago Goose was wandering aimlessly around the house, crying and bumping into things. We thought he was about to die. After we observed him closely for a while, it became obvious that he wasn’t seeing anything. An emergency trip to the veterinarian quickly confirmed that he was blind, having suffered detached retinas in both eyes. The vets attributed this to elevated blood pressure and told us that it’s fairly common for both retinas to detach more or less simultaneously.

That’s the bad news. The good news is, first, that it turns out that for an old cat (he’s 17) Goose actually is pretty healthy and he’s likely to be with us for a while. Of course, those assurances left quality-of-life considerations on the table, but the vets also predicted that he would adapt quickly to being blind. (Apparently cats are good at this sort of thing.) To our surprise, that prediction is being borne out. He’s navigating around the house on his own, moving freely from our bed on the second floor to his food dish and favorite chair on the first floor to his litter box in the basement and strolling around, guided by his memory, his sense of smell, his whiskers, and some sort of feline radar. In my earlier post, I described Goose as clumsy, and now he’s even clumsier, but he gets where he’s going. And blindness hasn’t stripped him of his alarm cat talent: He’s still getting us up at the same time, and now we know it’s not because he can read the clock on our headboard.

We’re not happy about this development, and neither is he. But we’re relieved that it has proved to be nothing fatal and we’re pleased by his resilience.