My old cat developed hypertension blindness across forty eight hours. After an evening of disorientation, he flatly accepted his condition and began to work on his new territory, setting off in random directions until he encountered something he knew. By the next day he had mapped his way to the food, the water, the litter box, the favourite chair. He had stopped bumping into things. He would approach a surface head on, then turn suddenly but smoothly (as if he had detected its temperature, or its smell, or some small air movement associated with it, a draught moving along the skirting board, say, down the steps from the hall, into the kitchen) and walk along it as quickly as he had before the lights went out.
He never showed a sign of panic, although he did, once or twice, give things a puzzled look. Four or five days later he can go where he wants, jump up onto chairs & sofas & beds, arrive in the kitchen thirty seconds after the smoked salmon comes out of the fridge. When he gets bored, he visits an unmapped area, exits from it on a wrong line, bumps a wall, steadily argues his way back to somewhere he recognises in the matrix of scents, sounds & air movements. We give him pills for the hypertension & he isn’t keen on that. Hands come out of nowhere. They force open his mouth & put something in. Otherwise his life is much the same as ever. Two days ago he shouted at the door until we opened it. Time to work on the garden.