Pet Tips

Deaf Cats – Pet tip 227

As cat owners, we of course want our pets to be as healthy as possible and live as long as possible. Sometimes though, certain diseases or problems become evident only after we have brought the cat or kitten into our home. One such problem can occur when we call our cat and it doesn’t respond to our voice. We may think that the cat is just ignoring us or is lazy, stubborn or not that smart and these are possibilities. There is another simple possibility though and it happens more frequently than you might imagine. It is possible that the cat is deaf in one ear or both ears.

Deafness in cats can happen for a variety of reasons just like it can happen to any species of animal. Common reasons cats can become deaf include; infections or injuries, foreign body obstructions, abundant wax buildup, reactions to medications or poisons etc. Depending on the cause, it is possible like in the case of wax buildup or infection, for the deafness to be reversed. Another common reason some cats are deaf is congenital; that is to say the cat was born deaf, and this is especially common in white cats.

Approximately one in five white cats is born deaf and this is even higher if the white cat has blue eyes. The genes that control eye colour and coat colour also play a part in deafness and the lack of ‘pigment’ in the coat colour and the eye colour is potentially related to a deaf white cat. In white cats that have 2 different coloured eyes of which one of them is blue, deafness in the ear on the same side as the blue eye is very common. In these cases the deafness is not currently reversible, though current research into cochlear implants for cats, suggests that these devices will be available to help cats in the future.

Regardless why your cat is deaf, it can still live a very fulfilling life, and be as affectionate, loving and playful as a hearing cat. Although a deaf cat won’t be able to hear your voice, it will be able to feel the vibrations of your footsteps and will use its other senses to compensate. Some deaf cats may sleep more than hearing cats and roam less than hearing cats but aside from that it’s often difficult to tell that they are deaf.

For the safety of your cat it makes good sense to keep deaf cats indoors 100% of the time. Their safety in relation to traffic, other cats and other outdoor dangers is obviously compromised so it’s best to keep them indoors. When deaf cats live indoors their life-spans are usually not shortened and they can live relatively normal lives.

© 2010

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