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How to safely raise a blind kitten and her brother?

GGirl
November 10th, 2010, 09:39 PM
New here and I just recently adopted two new kittens, each about 4 months old. Pogo, a male sighted kitten and Shira a female blind kitten. I've had cats in the past but never two at the same time and never a blind cat.

I've had Pogo and Shira for a week now. When we first brought them home, Shira was very cautious of where she walked and stayed on the floor. Her brother, Pogo, was very energetic, a bit assertive and likes to be the center of attention. At first, whenever we played with Shira, he would barge in and was a bit mean and bullying her around, perhaps trying to get our attention. Whenever he did that, she was not happy, would panic, run and hide, often hitting her head against the wall before finding a hiding place.

Within the week, she has gained a lot more confidence of the apartment and is doing amazingly well. She knows where all the furniture is, and is now jumping onto the sofa, bed, chairs, etc. With this confidence, she has also started to stand up for herself and has stalked her brother and smacked him around a few times. He is now a lot more gentler with his sister. (He is a bit of a chicken so that works in her favour). However, they are still play fighting, sometimes instigated by her!

I know kittens play fight, but never having two cats at the same time, it looks SO bad to me. If Shira could see, I probably wouldn`t worry so much about it, but since she cannot see, I am so fearful for her, especially when she wants to escape and runs away and risks hitting her head hard into the wall.

I`m looking for some advice. How do I get them to be nicer to one another. They will often sleep close together, in the same room, on the same sofa/bed, but I have never seen them cuddle up together. I also never see them groom one another and they have not even licked me yet. Instead, they are still biting. I'm teaching them to not bite and for the most part, I see some progress, but they are not fully trained yet, especially Pogo. Besides still biting, they are both very affectionate to me and want to rub up against me all the time.

Also, how do I get Shira not to panic. She doesnt panic often, but when she does, she flees and runs quickly trying to find a hiding spot which often leads her to hit her head hard on a wall. It breaks my heart every time I see her do this as she is a very gentle cat :(

Should I stop them from play fighting? Anytime I try, they seem to get back into it a few minutes later. :(

sugarcatmom
November 11th, 2010, 08:11 AM
That's so awesome that you adopted these kitties! What an angel you are. Blind cats are so often killed in shelters because they're considered less adoptable.

I would just let them play. It'll be pretty much impossible for you to stop them anyway unless you separate them, which I don't think would be good for either of them. And, they'll teach each other bite inhibition during these play sessions. How are you teaching them not to bite?

As for protecting Shira when she runs, can you pad some of the furniture and maybe put cushions or pillows against some of the walls that she tends to run into most? She should eventually learn where everything is and navigate around them, as long as you don't move stuff too much. Here are some articles on living with a blind cat that might help:
http://yourcatcareguide.com/wordpress/?p=120
http://www.messybeast.com/disabled.htm#blind

And lastly, we'd really love to see some pics of these 2, if you have any.

mastifflover
November 11th, 2010, 10:37 AM
That is so great that you adopted these two. Blind dogs and cats really adapt very well without sight. Sugarcatmom will certainly help you with advice we have a few really smart crazy cat ladies here. There knowledge of cats and kittens is vast so I think you found the right place. Welcome and yes pics are a must

GGirl
November 11th, 2010, 12:40 PM
I adopted them through a local cat rescue group. They are the angels in this story. They saved her and her brother from outside, but sadly she had an eye infection and lost her eyes.

I rarely, if ever, move my furniture around anyways, and I live in an apartment with no stairs. So I'm hoping she will have a pretty good life in my home. Separating them is impossible as they have always been together and if she does find herself in a room without her brother she starts to cry until she hears one of us. When I call her name, she comes prancing towards me all happy. So she cannot be left alone. I read somewhere that the deaf silence scares them the most. Because of this, I leave the radio on while I'm at work.

As for biting, at first since they bit so hard, I would simply put them onto the ground every time they bit, especially Pogo. He quickly stopped biting hard. Now, when he bites, I will say "No" and put him on the ground, or if I have a chance, I will grab his mouth gently but firmly and keep a hold on him. I don't hurt him but it is uncomfortable and he is learning it is not fun to bite people's hands cos they get "stuck" on him. Shira doesnt bite as hard as her brother and she has quickly learned not to bite too. We're still working on it, but the biting has stopped a lot. Hoping the progress will continue.

When I approach her, I will say "touch" and then she sniffs for my hand, or I will say "Pick up" and give her a chance to stay or walk away. If she stay's she knows I'm picking her up. But I'm also attentive to her wanting to be put back down. I think for the most part, she is doing well and I'm not startling her. It's just the panics and hyperness from her brother.

They have both learned to climb the dining room chairs, which is ok, but it now leads to them pulling the table cloth off, or climbing the dining room table which is a big no no. Still going to take a while before they learn not to do that one! :fingerscr

They also seem to be fighting for my bed. I don't mind them sleeping in the bed as long as they behave and don't fight in it. They also like to poke me with the covers. I don't know how to get them to stop poking me in the middle of the night. :shrug:

But my main issue is the play fighting and her panics to get away when it gets too rough. I'm going to put up some more padding, especially the sharper edges, but it's mostly the walls she hits.

Thanks for your help!!

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4012/5159442537_2a20559351.jpg

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4046/5159442295_4af4dae48c.jpg

luckypenny
November 11th, 2010, 04:18 PM
Pogo and Shira are absolutely beautiful :lovestruck: :cloud9:. Welcome to the forum, GGirl.

hazelrunpack
November 11th, 2010, 04:27 PM
No advice for you, but I did want to say your kitties are gorgeous, GGirl!

Marty11
November 11th, 2010, 04:41 PM
Beautiful cats you have. I am so happy you adopted them. :angel: I have no experiences with blind cats but it seems as though you are doing a great job. You will get some good advice here on this forum.

Love4himies
November 11th, 2010, 05:11 PM
Welcome and thank you for adopting these two kitties.

They are young and will play rough and unfortunately I think you are going to have her running into things until they calm down and putting padding on items that may hurt her is an excellent idea :thumbs up

They are just precious, GGirl :cloud9: :lovestruck::cloud9::lovestruck:

14+kitties
November 11th, 2010, 06:20 PM
Oy My!! Shira could be a twin for one of mine. If I made him long haired instead of short the markings on their face are the same. :cloud9:
It sounds like you have an excellent handle on both of the kitties. The only thing I don't agree with is holding the kitties' mouth. But if it works for you I know it's a method that some have used before.
The playing the kitties do is just that, playing. I know it's scary. Shira is doing really well at learning where her boundaries are. The panic happens with sighted kitties as well as blind. I've watched some of mine do it too.
Keep up the great work! :thumbs up

GGirl
November 12th, 2010, 06:03 AM
Thanks everyone.

I know the biting technique does not sound good but it is the only technique that has ever worked for me to deter biting in all of my cats. I try not to hurt him but I also want him to realize people hand's mean uncomfortable. To be fair to the cat tho, I also do not play with them with my hands. I use toys and I look for warning signs they are about to bite. But kittens often bite unprovoked and if you don't train them early it's impossible to train them when they are older.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get them to share? Pogo is a bit of an attention hog. He's adorable but if I give Shira any attention he'll barge into the middle and want to be pet. I try to give him a lot of attention, but it never seems to be enough.

Shira is also giving me a heart attack. She keeps climbing onto my dining room table and sleeping there! I tell her "NO" and she's clueless that I'm talking to her and still sleeping. I have to pick her up, put her on the ground and she's confused on why I woke her.

Love4himies
November 12th, 2010, 06:45 AM
GGirl, remember, you have kittens, not human children, so you can't expect them to understand about sharing attention:shrug:. Pat both of them at the same time. I find with my foster litters just sitting on the floor with them all around me is enough for them.

You shouldn't have to bite your kitties to get them to learn hands are not for playing, I haven't yet done that with any of my foster litters and they have all learned not to bite or scratch. I find just a firm no and redirecting their attention to a toy has been adequate. Sometimes it takes a while, but they soon get the point ;)

Are you thinking Shira may be partially deaf too? or are you concerned she doesn't understand she shouldn't be sleeping on the table? Do you have a cat stand that she can sleep on? Perhaps just gently moving her to her cat stand will teach her?

GGirl
November 12th, 2010, 07:15 AM
I don't think she's deaf. She can hear her toys swish across the floor, even the ones without bells. But she doesnt know her name yet and I don't think she realized I was talking to her. She was in a really good nice sleep. I do have a cat stand for her, but it's not too high. I don't let my cats climb anything higher than a dining room chair. I don't want them to get hurt and I think it just confuses them which things they can and cannot climb.

I do sit on the floor between the two of them, but it really doesnt seem enough. Pogo will have to climb on top of me, and even then, if he sees my other hand petting Shira he taps on that hand, despite already being pet with my other hand.

This also extends to everything else. We have lots of cat toys and no matter which one she plays with, he wants it right then and there and will snatch it away from her. Also, at feeding time. I just gave them breakfast, two separate bowls for water and food both. Pogo has to eat out of the bowl Shira is, despite both having equal portions of food. Pogo is about a third bigger than Shira and she's so tiny. He eats a lot and I'm afraid he's eating both bowls and she's not getting enough food. I have to sit with them to make sure she's eating until she's full, otherwise he pushes her out of the way and she walks away.

Again, if she could see, I probably wouldn't worry so much about it. But a lot of times she's confused on where her toy went or where the food bowl is. She does not realize there are two bowls and she can switch to the other.

Sorry for all the questions. I've never had two cats at the same time and I just want to make sure they are raised to be good healthy cats. :cat:

Love4himies
November 12th, 2010, 08:27 AM
Feeding time with cats who have different appetites can be a challenge, that's for sure. It has been my experience that normally the boys kitties do grow faster than the girl kitties, some, quite a bit more. If you see Pogo pushing Shira out of the way to get to her food, I would pick him up and take him to another room until she is finished, or just feed him in a separate room.

I wouldn't worry too much about Pogo being a bit more assertive in his attention getting. Just try to pat them the same. Pogo just wants a bit of what Shira is getting and I don't think you will stop that from happening :shrug:.

Cats love to climb, of course with Shira, you will have to be very careful so she doesn't hurt herself. There are wicker beds that you can buy that have a cubby hole bed underneath and a bed on top, It is only a couple of feet tall so that may work for Shira, she may feel more secure up high :shrug:. I got mine from Costco.

aws1
November 12th, 2010, 10:38 AM
Thank you for adopting the two kittens GGirl you have done a wonderful thing :thumbs up Wish you many years of loving friendship with your pets.

GGirl
November 17th, 2010, 06:49 AM
The fighting has returned :(

For the last few days, they were getting along pretty nicely, I even saw them sharing my bed and sleeping close together.

Yesterday morning, was another story. I have this cardboard box that Shira likes to sleep in. She was minding her own business and Pogo starts poking at her through the box. Non stop, poke poke poke. She got pissed off, and grabbed his hand and bit it. Then Pogo went from happy to pissed off. You know, the shaking, about to jump and attack, mode. I broke it up, but I was on my way to work, so couldn't do much of anything else. They both seemed ok when i left, each playing at the front door, etc.

Anyways, I come home from work, Shira's sleeping in the dining room, Pogo sleeping in the bedroom area (opposite side of the apartment). I go to the kitchen, it's feeding time. Both seem happy and eating peacefully beside one another. It's time for bed and that is when the non-stop rough housing starts. I got tired of it, so I locked them both out of the bedroom. I wake up in the morning and they are STILL at it. I go to break it up, and Pogo is mad. He starts doing his shaking head thing again. I lock Shira up for a few seconds (she ran to the bedroom to escape, so I just closed the door). And then I went to go pick up Pogo and he's trying to bite me, squirm and run away. I wanted to give them both a TIMEOUT because the fighting was pretty bad and they were running back and forth around the apartment and Shira was hitting herself on the wall either escaping or attacking.

I don't know what to do. Pogo's been fixed. I thought that would have calmed him down! Shira still needs to be spayed but Pogo is the more aggressive one, although Shira is starting to instigate the fights too. It's about 60-40 now, as opposed to 90-10

:shrug:

Love4himies
November 17th, 2010, 06:58 AM
Are they fighting or playing???????? There is a big difference and if they are playing, unless one is getting hurt you should let them be. I have seen siblings play so rough, that I couldn't believe one wasn't hurt, but they keep going back for more :shrug:.

They will settle down at about 18-24 months old depending on the cat.


Please, if they are playing, let them be kittens and get their energy out.

GGirl
November 17th, 2010, 07:15 AM
It's hard to tell. I *think* they are playing as I don't hear any hissing/growling. But then again they are twitching. You know when a cat gets mad and his body starts to shake? His face gets all scrunched up, mean like, and you know he's thinking how is the best approach to bite/attack? I try to break it up when it gets to that point. But they are tackling one another down to the ground by the throat, Pogo usually being the more aggressive one. I guess they are fighting for dominance?

I donno. They just seem to be constantly at it this morning.

Love4himies
November 17th, 2010, 08:06 AM
I think they are playing, I will try to get a link to a video of cats fighting.

When my Jasper and Sweet Pea play, there is hissing. When cats are fighting, there is is screaming and fur will be flying, enough to make a coat out of.

Love4himies
November 17th, 2010, 08:07 AM
Fighting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCojY0JVPvw


Playing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of45ALWB3_0

GGirl
November 17th, 2010, 12:39 PM
Yah, I guess compared to those video's, they are playing. But it gets pretty rough. It just feels like Shira doesnt always want to play and is always getting picked on :( Plus, she tries to run away and hits the wall when she does. I do let them play when it's gentler. I just don't know if I should let them continue when it's much rougher and constant.

Love4himies
November 17th, 2010, 01:22 PM
I really understand your concern, poor Shira :(. The only problem with you giving them time out is that they don't understand what you are doing or why you are doing it. Cats don't reason and the "punishment" must be immediate so they understand the consequences of their actions. So it has to be Shira that teaches Pogo to leave her alone.

I feel your pain, I see this all the time with my foster litters and one of them isn't blind :(. I always feel so badly for the kitty that seems to be getting the rough play when they don't want it. But then 2 minutes later that same kitten that didn't want to play goes on the attack :yell: :frustrated:.

What you may try doing is to gently pick up Shira when the play gets too rough and give her some gentle cuddling and redirect Pogo's play with a toy. But normally, I let the kittens work it out for themselves. They seem to be best buds after a few minutes :shrug:.

ownedbycats
November 21st, 2010, 06:50 AM
I haven't been on in a while and just found this thread. Have you considered putting a bell on Pogo? Then Shira would know when he was coming.

Love4himies
November 21st, 2010, 07:02 AM
I haven't been on in a while and just found this thread. Have you considered putting a bell on Pogo? Then Shira would know when he was coming.

What a great idea :thumbs up

GGirl
November 28th, 2010, 08:08 AM
Thanks for all the help.

After about a month of an adjustment, everyone is now getting along good. They still do the random play fighting but not nearly as aggressive as it was before, at least not in my presence :) Shira has grown a bit and seems to be able to defend her own now, and she has instigated some of the play fights too.

As long as they are both on even ground, I am happy to let them play. :)

The bell is a good idea except Pogo is such a freight train Shira usually knows he is coming. He's a pretty heavy/loud cat when he runs or plays.

Thanks for all the help!

I have one more issue regarding stinky poop, but i'll start another thread for that :)