Should a Blind Cat’s Eyes be Removed?


Hello Dr. Barchas! I love your blog! In April, I adopted a blind kitten, he is now 10 months old. His corneas ruptured due to a very severe respiratory infection before we adopted him.

He gets around our house well and seems perfectly comfortable aside from a brown discharge we clean from his eyes once or twice a day. We also give him a eye ointment to keep the eyes lubricated.

Our vet recommended a bilateral ennucleation (removal of both eyes) with the idea that sooner or later the eyes will become a problem and he’d rather do surgery on a the 7.5 lb cat than a 15 lb cat. However, that vet has suddenly left our practice and the other vet there says if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; that we should keep medicating the eyes for now as he sees
no reason to do the surgery now.

I really trusted my previous vet and i just want to do the best thing for my kitty. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Woodbridge, NJ

I’m going to side with the second vet on this one. If your cat is not suffering, I have a hard time justifying a painful surgery that might lead to complications.

As you have discovered, blind cats generally lead normal lives as long as they are kept indoors. And blindness unfortunately is common in kittens that suffer severe upper respiratory infections before their eyes open.

If the blindness is linked to chronically painful eyes then removal of the eyes is indicated to eliminate the pain. But if your cat is not in pain, then the surgery would be preemptive: it would be designed to prevent problems that might or might not occur in the future. In my opinion it’s better to perform the surgery only if problems develop.

Although many surgeries (spays, intestinal surgeries, orthopedic surgeries) are easier to perform on very young, small animals, enucleations (eye removals) aren’t really among them. So you definitely have some time to think this over.

I’d recommend that you visit a specialist in veterinary ophthalmology. The specialist should be able to assess your cat and give a good estimation of the likelihood that his eyes will become painful. If the ophthalmologist endorses surgery then I’ll back her. Otherwise I see no reason to put your cat through the procedure.

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