The Royal National Institute for the Blind has launched a new scheme today whereby cats will be trained to guide blind people through their daily lives.
The new feline recruits will help launch CATNAV, sight loss charity RNIB’s new scheme to train thousands of cats to act as mobility guides for blind and partially sighted people.
The charity hopes cats could provide an alternative way for blind and partially sighted people to get out and about safely and with confidence.
Early indications from those involved in the trial scheme have been positive.
Partially sighted Simon Williams told us, “I’d describe myself as a cat lover definitely, so I was delighted to take part in the CATNAV scheme.”
“If you’re asking me if I always end up where I want to be using a guide cat? Well, no – not exactly, but that’s part of the adventure I think?”
“Often I’ll stand around on the street for an hour or more because my cat fancied a little sit down, but that’s ok – we all need a rest from time to time.”
“And yesterday I wanted to go to the Post Office but spent two hours in the garden of Mrs James at number 72 because she sometimes feeds treats to my guide cat. I suppose I could have done without that.”
“I think it’s fair to say that like with all new navigation technologies there have been a few teething issues, but on the days where my cat actually wants to go to the same place I do, then the system works absolutely brilliantly.”