by Dwight Alleyne, DVM
It takes a big human heart to bring home a cat with special needs. If you’re looking for ideas on how to provide the best care for them, you’ve come to the right place. Adopting a cat with a long-term disability can have its unique challenges, but these tips will be of great benefit to you and your special feline.
What Is a Special Needs Cat?
A special needs cat is any cat that requires long-term care due to an acquired or congenital medical issue.
For example, you may have a cat born with a disability such as cerebellar hypoplasia leading to neurological deficits. Perhaps your cat has a reduction or loss of their senses due to being blind or deaf. Or maybe they’ve experienced a traumatic event or accident resulting in a lost limb or other body part. No matter what caused their disability, these cats have a unique set of health care needs.
Tips on Providing the Best Care for Your Disabled Cat
Research Their Current Health Condition
Understanding the medical issue your special needs cat has will allow you to recognize if you’re prepared to take on the challenge of care. Your veterinarian will be your best resource for advice. Also, seek out other cat owners in similar situations for more information.
Make Sure Your Environment Is Appropriate
It’s very important that the living space of your cat is designed with it’s condition in mind. For example, if your special needs feline is blind, you want to make sure it doesn’t have access to many stairs. If your cat is deaf, you’ll want to keep them in an indoor environment with no danger of escaping outside.
Make Sure Your Schedule Allows for Appropriate Care
Caring for a special needs cat will require more time than usual. Can someone assist you with your pet? Will your work schedule interfere with providing adequate care? These are questions you need to answer to make sure you can provide the level of care they require.
Understand the Commitment
You may be passionately moved at your initial meeting with your special cat, but is this genuinely long-term? This is a big responsibility you’re undertaking, so you have to be honest with yourself and identify if you’ll be in it for the long haul.
Be Ready for Regular Veterinary Visits
Depending on your special needs cat’s condition, they may need regular veterinary visits. You should be financially prepared to handle all of this. You may want to look at pet insurance or other means to cover expenses.
Can CBD for Cats Help?
Ongoing research closely examines the benefits of CBD oil in pets for multiple ailments. Many special needs cats have inflammatory and neurodegenerative conditions. Though no studies have been conducted specifically on cats yet, existing research suggests that CBD oil may have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects in both dogs and humans. When CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, pathways are opened allowing for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities to occur. These pathways may also help with feelings of nervousness, stress or fear, which many special needs cats can experience.
With the potential benefits CBD oil could provide, you may want to have a discussion with your veterinarian to see if it could be right for your feline friend. If they agree, try incorporating a chew or tincture from Heelr into your pet’s care routine.
Caring for a special needs cat can be a challenge, but it can also be rewarding. Do your research, be prepared, and make sure you provide the best care you can. The joy and love you'll bring to the life of a cat that needs you more than most will be well worth it in the end.
Dr. Dwight Alleyne is a veterinarian who has over a decade of experience treating cats and dogs. He is also the creator of the Animal Doctor Blog, where he provides general health advice and pet-product reviews.