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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22422
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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I have just noticed my 14 year old female tortoiseshell is

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I have just noticed my 14 year old female tortoiseshell is bumping into things and misjudging her jumps and feeling out for things and this seems to have happened in a short time period. I will be taking her to a Vets to have her assessed during the coming week.
Whilst I personally can not see cataracts over her eyes but I'm not an expert, she obviously has a vision problem. If it is cataracts can these be removed and at what cost. I thank you for any advice offered. Regards Ian.

Hello & welcome, Ian. I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Can you tell me if you suspect that Trixie is completely blind?

Or do you think her vision is just reduced?

Are her pupils permanently dilated at the moment?

Do they constrict at all in bright light?

If you aren't sure, can you drop a cotton ball (or anything else that has no odor and not likely to make a sound) to see if she can see it fall?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello and thank you for your quick response.

At this point in time I'm leaning to the view she is not totally blind as when I go to move she at times follows that movement. Her pupils are not constantly dilated and on shining a bright light her pupils did dilate, though the cotton wool ball seemed to escape her. I also tried moving a white biro to and fro on the desk in front of her which she appeared to see.

Can you tell me if you consider letting her out a wise move until I see a Vet?

Thank you Ian,

First, I would absolutely not let her out without close supervision until she has been checked by her vet. I know she will not be pleased with this, but if she has any sight compromise, we don't want her to potentially be at risk of not being able to react to outside dangers (ie cars, dogs, other cats, etc) as quick as usual.

Now if you feel that she still has sight, then this does make severe cataracts and complete retinal detachment less likely at the moment. And as long as she continues to maintain signs of at least some vision (and those pupils keep being light reactive), then this is an urgent situation but not necessarily an emergency. That said, any sudden and complete loss of sight or any eye bulging or pain would our red flags to have her seen as an emergency.

Now I must note that if Trixie doesn't have a history of eye health issues or diabetes and you do not see any obvious opacity within the eyes, then cataracts are unlikely here. You can see an example of a cataract in a cat's eye HERE . That said, if Trixie did have cataracts and removal was indicated, this would require her to be referred to a veterinary eye specialist where the cost for surgery can be between £1500 -3000 (depending on whether one or both eyes needed surgery).

Otherwise, when we have an elderly cat that appears to lose her vision suddenly or has rapidly declining vision, then we'd be a wee bit concerned about whether her retinas are under threat. So, I am glad that you are planning on having her seen in the week to come. That said, again, if we have a potential retinal detachment causing sudden blindness, I must note that it'd be ideal to have her seen as soon as possible. The reason is because if a retina is on the brink or has just detached, quick treatment can give us a chance to save her sight. If it detaches and treatment is delayed, then sight is rarely restored.

Now it is not always possible to appreciate retinal compromise on gross exam at home. Still, if we have a full retinal detachment we can sometimes see the retina float up towards the front of eye once it has peeled off the back of the eye. You can see an example of this here (example). So, if you are seeing this or any hint of this, then this would a concern and something to have seen urgently.

Just to note what can trigger retinal damage or detachment in cat’s her age, we do have a few concerns here. Often we will see elevated blood pressure induce a detachment of the retina. This can be a primary condition but it can also arise secondarily to other health issues (ie kidney disease, thyroid disease).

Another concern for vision deterioration in cats is inflammation within the eye (aka uvetitis). This again can be hard to appreciate on gross examination at home but sometimes we may see haziness of the ocular fluids within the eye. In regards ***** ***** of this type of condition, we can see viruses (FIP, FIV, FeLV), parasitic infection (ie toxoplasma), fungal infections of the eye, tumors (ie lymphoma), and bacterial uveitis within the eye.

Overall, sight deterioration can be triggered by a few different issues for cats. Cataracts are not very common to cats, but retinal disease is not uncommon for cats this age. Furthermore, if we only have sight deterioration and not full loss, then we'd also have to think about uveitis clouding her vision as well. Therefore, in this case, it is good that you plan to have a check with her vet so that the eyes can be examined and the cause of her signs diagnosed. In the meantime, I would urge you to keep her inside and to monitor her eyes closely. If you see any loss of light responsiveness, ocular pain, redness, or if either eye starts to look larger then the other; then these would be all signs of having her seen as an emergency. Otherwise, as long as she is stable, you can choose to wait for her regular vet to see her.

Finally, just to note in case you were keen to have her seen today, some veterinary practices in our country have office hours today. As well, I wanted to mention that most veterinary practices here do have contingency plans for emergency care for their patients even when they are not open. Therefore, it is worth ringing the practice. If they are open, you can get her seen today. If they aren't, then they will likely have a message to direct you on how to contact their out of hours service. And if you don't have a vet you can find one local to you, you can check the RCVS Register (HERE) to find your local vets or Vets Now (LINK) who are open all nights/weekends. In any case, if you wanted to get her checked out sooner then there are options to have her seen today too.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

Hi again Ian,

I just realized my second link didn't work (the mixed blessing of technology), so I do just want to post it again HERE.

Take care,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

Dr. B. and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello again....Just a follow up to let you know Trixie has been diagnosed by my Vet with Retina problems, high blood pressure and renal problems and whereas I thought she was about 14 years old ( not having her from a kitten ) my Vet judged her age around 17 years old.

She is on a course of Amlodipine and have been advised to change her diet to Royal Canin Veterinary Diet ( RENAL) pouches.

I do have a couple of questions I would like your advice on. Three weeks ago I had my 19 year old tomcat put to sleep through old age and he and Trixie had been constant companions for the last 11 years and I have noticed she is constantly looking and calling for him.

My point being would it make sense for me to get another adult cat as a companion for her especially if she is going to become blind? Finally is it advisable to keep Trixie indoors considering her condition?

Once again many thanks for all your kind advice and information given, it was much appreciated.

Kind regards.


Hi Ian,

Thank you for the update on Trixie.
I am glad to see that you have had her checked and she has been started on treatment for her kidney and blood pressure issues. Hopefully, by getting those at check at this point, we can keep her stable and comfortable for as long as possible.

In regards to future care for Trixie, indoor life would be the safest option if she will accept it. Or if she is amenable and you have the garden set up, then you could consider allowing her supervised garden access to ensure that she didn't put herself at risk.

Now her reaction to the loss of your other kitty is not uncommon. Often the remaining cat will call and search for the other when they have passed away (since they usually don't know what has happened or where they have gone). In these cases, they do settle with time. But to help her cope further, you will want to provide her with extra attention and distract her when she is seeking him. By doing this, you will help her come to terms with his loss and help fill the void he has left. Further to this, we can find OTC treatments like Feliway (aka Comfort Zone in the pet stores) and Kalmaid or Zylkene can help reduce stress and help them cope better with losses like this.

Finally, in regards to companionship for her, it would be best to avoid bringing any more kitties home at this point in her life. The reason is because if her sight is becoming compromised and she is feeling vulnerable then she is even less likely to be open to a stranger "invading" her home. So, while she will surely miss her companion, introduction of a new cat is quite likely to increase her stress and be less then ideal for her.

Take care & all the best,
Dr. B.