Disabled pets are incredible. In fact, sometimes they pull off tremendous heroic and athletic feats! Blind, one-eyed, deaf and three-legged pets can live full happy lives – anyone who has spent time with a disabled dog or cat knows that a disability detracts little from a pet’s ability to give and get lots of love! Puppies and kittens who are born with a disability, or acquire it early in life, have no idea they’re different, and even adult and older pets can most often adapt to disabilities that humans would find hard to manage. They simply adapt and frolic on. Read on to find out why a disabled dog or cat can make a perfect pet – and see a video of Maty, and AMAZING 3-leg dog!
The most common pet disabilities are blindness, deafness or loss of one limb. A pet may be born blind, deaf or three-legged, or may acquire the disability through an illness or injury.
Blind Dogs and Cats
Often, when people adopt a puppy or kitten, they don’t realize their pet is blind or deaf right away. Puppies and kittens tend to be a little clumsy and distracted anyway, so bumping into things or not responding when called may be chalked up to normal infantile behavior. Then, they adapt, and learn to navigate the house and communicate with their owner so well, it may take closer observation to discover the disability.
People do not have to do much to accommodate a blind pet’s needs. Dogs and cats use their senses of smell, hearing and touch to get around. But, owners of blind pets usually are careful to keep all furniture in the same place at all times, and even pad sharp edges of furniture. Food and water bowls, litter box, pet bed, and toy stash all need to be in the exact same place for the pet to easily find what she needs.
For cats and small dogs, people have to be careful about carrying their pet from one room to the next. Dogs and cats memorize their paths through the house so the ride in the owner’s arms can leave them disoriented when set back down – unless it’s in a very familiar place. They also should not leave their pet on a chair or bed, unless the pet is very familiar with it, so he can jump down safely.
Blind pets can be just as amazing as sighted pets – and even save lives. We ran a story a few years ago about Samuri, a blind Akita who alerted his owner that a neighbor had collapsed across the street, in the dark of night. The dog knew something was wrong and barked incessantly until his owner went out, saw his neighbor and helped her. She’d had a stroke and could’ve died had it not been for the dog’s warning.
Deaf Cats and Dogs
Since dogs and cats normally have such a tremendous sense of hearing, it would seem that a loss of this sense would be devastating. But, dogs and cats adapt quite well, and become more sensitive to vibrations they feel. And like all dogs and cats, they are excellent readers of body language, so communicating with them is not as difficult as you may imagine.
Deaf pets may not respond to their owner’s spoken words, such as announcing dinnertime, but they read the signals like any other pet. The owner may call their pet by clapping their hands or stomping their feet. Some use a flashlight for visual commands.
Three-Legged Dogs and Cats
Seeing a three-legged dog or cat may make you feel sad, but most of them are perfectly adept at doing everything four-legged dogs and cats do. Some can do more.
Maty is an award-winning disc dog who can make those phenomenal athletic leaps with only one hind leg. In competitions, sometimes spectators don’t even notice she’s missing a leg at first. She’s just that good. Maty is also a surrogate mother for abandoned kittens and visits classrooms to teach children that people and animals with disabilities are the same as everyone else. She’s living proof. Watch Maty in action.
Most three-legged dogs and cats don’t need any special accommodations to live normal lives – other than making extra sure they maintain a healthy weight. Their body weight has one less leg to bear it, which causes more stress on the other leg joints. Also, dogs need to have their nails trimmed regularly (as all dogs should anyway) to give them the best footing on hard surfaces.
Three-legged cats like to jump up on high surfaces like any other cat. It’s the jumping off that can be a problem if there is only one front leg to take the impact. For these cats, the owner needs to make sure all cat-accessible surfaces are a safe distance from the floor.
Love a Disabled Pet
Why are we telling you all this? Because we think every dog or cat deserves to have a good life in a loving home, and should not be overlooked in animal shelters because of a disability. A disability doesn’t necessarily mean the pet will be harder to care for, and certainly won’t make him any less loveable. And if you want to bring a second cat into your home, it’s good to know your first cat is more likely to accept a disabled cat! When you go to a shelter or breeder to find your next perfect pet to love, we hope you’re open to the idea that your perfect pet may have some imperfections!
You can find disabled pets for adoption by clicking “special needs” when doing a dog or cat search at www.Adopt-a-Pet.com