The vet thinks she's about ten years old, and she came to us already fixed, so someone either abandoned her or she ran away. We take her in at night since our home backs up to the woods, and there are all sorts of dangerous creatures out there.
Awhile back she started doing something odd when we let her out in the morning. Instead of heading straight for the door, she would hug the wall and walk the perimeter of the room. I thought it was just another of her cat quirks, until I vacuumed one day behind a few doors. The next time I let her out she walked face first into a door. Wham.
The vet gave me the bad news. Gypsy is slowly going blind.
I should have noticed she had stopped bringing the heads of creatures home as trophies. And she had started being "a little off" with her jumps, sometimes missing her intended target. But she was seeming to get around okay for the most part, so I was still letting her out by herself, until we found her walking in the middle of the street. That was the end of her unsupervised outings.
So what do you do with an outside cat who can't see very well? Welcome to the world of a service human. I'm her seeing-eye guy.
Surgery is out of the question, and I won't put an old, frail cat through that ordeal anyway. (I'm sure she would love an Elizabethan collar.)
So we started a new routine. Since she wants to be outside at some point during the day, I bring my laptop and keep an eye on her while she relaxes on the deck. But I can't stay out there all day, so I figured we'd try a cat harness, which would keep her from wandering off while enjoying the outdoors. I might even impress the neighbors walking my cat on a leash.
You can probably guess where this is going.
We figured putting the harness on her (brand name: "Kitty Holster") would be a two-person, oven mitts & peroxide task. But Gypsy didn't fight us, calmly letting us adjust the velcro. Harness in place, we put her down. And then she did what you've seen other cats do on Internet videos.
Put a cat in a harness and she'll most likely lay on her side, play dead and refuse to move while giving you the death stare. Stand her up, encourage her to walk around and she'll do her best impression of Frankenstein.
|"Seriously? Stripes? Have you not noticed what I'm already wearing?"|
We're going to slowly get her used to the harness. "You wanna go outside, you've gotta get dressed." We're being very careful not to move furniture, or if we do move it, put it back in exactly the same place. Cats who can't see well can apparently get around if they mark a path with their scent. Though sometimes I have to put her in front of her food when giving her cat treats.
This is all not a big deal for someone who has served as a cat butler for decades. Besides, if the tables were turned, she'd do it for me.
And even though I have no idea how much vision she has left, Gypsy still looks right into your heart with those beautiful green eyes of hers. Eyes are still windows of the soul, even if they can't see.