Cataracts are defined as the clouding up of the lens of the eye causing impairment of vision. In more serious cases, cataracts can lead to total blindness. The lens becomes thick and opaque as an area of whitish gray material forms and grows from the center of the eye. This eye defect is not exclusive to humans but can affect some animals as well, like dogs and cats. If you have a cat, then understanding feline cataracts is crucial in preventing your cat from getting it. Risk In humans and dogs, age is considered as a key factor for the development of cataracts. However, this isn’t the general case for cats. Elderly cats are less likely to have cataracts than elderly dogs. They acquire cataracts due to a number of other contributing medical factors. Feline cataracts may be congenital, meaning the kitten has acquired them during the course of its development. Traumatic eye injuries acquired during cat fights, accidental electric shock, exposure to toxins and poisons and radiation are just some of the non-congenital causes for cataract formation. Inflammation that results from these injuries is a significant contributing factor. Poor nutrition that has low levels of taurine may also contribute to non-congenital cataracts. Taurine has a vital role in preventing the action of free radicals that may lead to cataract formation. Symptoms and Diagnosis If you closely examine your cat’s eyes and chance upon a noticeable opaque, bluish, gray, or white spot, then that may be a sign that your cat is developing cataracts. Cats inflicted with cataracts may be a bit reserved when it comes to climbing stairs and jumping between pieces of furniture. Since their vision is impaired, their depth perception, which is necessary to perform these stunts, is affected as well. If you suspect that your cat is exhibiting these symptoms, it is best to get the professional opinion of a vet. Your vet may ask to perform a complete history, a physical examination. In some cases, he or she may refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist. Chemistry tests may be done to assess the kidney, liver and pancreas for disease. A complete blood count is also an option to rule out infection, inflammation and anemia. A genetic profile of your cat may also be generated to rule out birth defects. Treatment Once the underlying cause is determined, the vet may now decide on the best approach to treat the cataract. For mild cataracts, your vet may provide some eye drops to prevent further inflammation and other secondary problems. For severe cataracts and if your cat is healthy and is a good candidate for surgery, the cataract will have to be removed through invasive procedures. Prevention A properly balanced diet with sufficient taurine is the first step in preventing feline cataracts. Low quality cat foods should be avoided as much as possible as these offer substandard nutrients. Since the leading cause of feline cataracts is through traumatic eye injuries, it is best to lower the exposure of your pet cat from other cats. Regular vet visits may also help you in determining the overall health of your cat’s eyes and fully understanding feline cataracts. The earlier the diagnosis is for developing cataracts, the easier the treatment will be before they get any worse.