Feline progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a condition that affects a cat’s retina, the part of their eye responsible for detecting light and transmitting images to their brain. PRA is an inherited disease that can lead to blindness over time.
Early signs of feline PRA can include dilated pupils, difficulty seeing in low light conditions, and increased clumsiness or reluctance to jump or climb. As the disease progresses, your cat will become completely blind.
PRA can occur in any cat breed, but certain breeds are more susceptible to the disease. These breeds include Abyssinians, Bengals, Siamese, and Persian cats.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for feline PRA. There are things that pet owners can do to help their blind feline companions adapt to their condition. Giving them a safe and predictable environment, including keeping furniture and other objects in the same place, can help your cat navigate their surroundings more easily. Using scents or textures on different surfaces can also help your cat identify different areas of their home.
Symptoms of Feline Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Symptoms of Feline Progressive Retinal Atrophy can include:
- Dilated pupils
- Difficulty seeing in low light conditions
- Increased clumsiness or reluctance to jump or climb
As the disease progresses, cats will eventually become completely blind.
Diagnosing Feline Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Feline Progressive Retinal Atrophy can be diagnosed through a physical examination, ophthalmoscopic exam and laboratory tests. During the physical examination, the veterinarian will look for signs of vision impairment such as dilated pupils or poor night vision. The ophthalmoscopic exam will allow the veterinarian to look at the back of their eye for any abnormalities. Laboratory tests can also be done to rule out other possible causes of vision impairment.
Stages of Feline Progressive Retinal Atrophy
The progression of the disease can be split into three stages: early, intermediate, and late.
In the early stage of PRA, cats might not have any obvious signs of visual impairment. Owners might notice that their cat’s eyes appear to reflect differently in low light conditions.
In the intermediate stage of PRA, cats will start to have difficulty seeing in low light conditions and can become more hesitant or clumsy when navigating their surroundings. Owners might also notice that their cat’s eyes appear cloudy or hazy.
In the late stage of PRA, cats will become completely blind. They will likely bump into objects, have trouble finding their food and water bowls, and become more reliant on their other senses to navigate their environment. It’s important for owners to give their cats a safe and predictable environment for their blind feline companions to help them adapt to their condition.
Treating Feline Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Feline Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Once a cat has been diagnosed with the disease, the goal of treatment is to slow down the progression of the disease and manage any secondary complications that arise.
One approach to managing PRA is with dietary supplements. Antioxidants such as Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids can help slow down the disease progression. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian before starting any supplements.
Another approach is through regular veterinary check-ups to monitor the disease progression and address any secondary complications such as cataracts or glaucoma.
In some cases, surgery such as cataract removal will be recommended to help manage the disease and improve your cat’s quality of life. This is not always an option for all cats with PRA.
Preventing Feline Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Preventing Feline Progressive Retinal Atrophy involves responsible breeding practices. Cat breeders should screen their cats for PRA and avoid breeding cats with a history of the disease. Pet owners who are considering adopting a cat from a breeder should ask about the breeder’s screening practices and the cat’s genetic health.