- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


White Cats and health issues - Answered by Dr. Van Lienden

January 9th, 2008, 04:29 PM
to health problems?

My friends recently adopted a white kitten. Before he arrived, she mentioned that many white cats are blind. Hers, as it turns out is not blind, but he is deaf. He's a sweet little thing and totally an indoor cat because of his being deaf.

This made me wonder if white cats are more prone to health issues...

January 9th, 2008, 05:19 PM
In 1976 our Beagle "found" a white kitten - maybe 6 months old while we were walking him on a cold Nov. Ottawa night. Turned out the kitten "Blanche" was deaf - dawned on us after a day or so - she lived to be 19 with absolutely no medical problems - just had her annual shots - that was it. She was small - maybe 10 - 12 lbs. - and extremely smart - much smarter than the Beagle who she enjoyed leading on a merry chase every day and night. I think she thought she was the dog.

January 9th, 2008, 05:32 PM
White coats in cats are definitely linked to deafness. It's pretty common. Other stuff, I'm not sure. I want to say eye problems too, but I might be thinking of dogs (a lot of white dogs have eye/ear issues).

ETA: Some stats about white cats and deafness (the eye thing I was thinking of is about the blue eye link) From:

-95% of the general cat population is non-white cats (i.e. not pure white) and congenital deafness is extremely rare in non-white cats.
-5% of the general cat population is white cats (i.e. pure white). 15-40% of these pure white cats have one or two blue-eyes.
-Of those white cats with one or two blue eyes, 60-80% are deaf; 20-40% have normal hearing; 30-40% had one blue eye and were deaf while 60-70% had one blue eye and normal hearing.
-Of the 5% of white cats in the overall population, 60-80% had eyes of other colors (e.g. orange, green). Of those 10- 20% were deaf and 80-90% had normal hearing.
-Deaf white cats with one or two blue eyes account for 0.25 - 1.5 of total cat population
-Total number of cats with white coat and blue eyes account for 0.75 - 2.0% of total cat population

It is evident from those studies that blue eyed whites exhibit a higher incidence of deafness than do orange/green eyed whites or non-white cats! But not all blue eyed whites are deaf and here's why:-

There is a known link between white coat color, blue eyes and deafness - but since the coat and eye color can be caused by different genes it means that only some blue eyed whites are deaf. There is a gene/gene complex which causes white coat, blue eyes and deafness, but not all cats get their white coat and blue eyes from that particular gene, so not all white cats will be deaf.

January 9th, 2008, 06:19 PM
Very interesting information - thank you! My friends' white cat being deaf just made me wonder...

Thanks for the link, Bendyfoot - again, interesting!

Once again the wisdom of this Board has answered my questions :D

January 9th, 2008, 06:51 PM
I've always just heard that they were prone to deafness, nothing else.

January 9th, 2008, 07:06 PM
I've heard the same but I have to say my all white cat, Smitty has no health problems such as deafness, impaired sight, etc.

January 10th, 2008, 10:34 AM
My Casper was born deaf.He is pure white with blue eyes.If you have a white cat with one blue eye and one another colour,then the side of the blue will be deaf.

I have done a ton of research when I adopted him.He was 8 weeks and is 4 now.This is the only "health" issue for them.

He is VERY VERY vocal.:rolleyes:

January 10th, 2008, 10:38 AM
Not sure whether this is relevant or applicable to cats .. but I'll throw it out there ;)

Grey/white horses are more prone to cancerous melanomas (sp?) than other colors of horses. I wonder whether that applies to cats also?

January 10th, 2008, 10:44 AM
Here is my deaf boy.

January 10th, 2008, 11:08 AM
I had a beautiful white cat he had absolutely no health problems till he got cancer at 14 years.

January 11th, 2008, 09:30 AM
We have the good forturne to have a deaf white cat, She is very healthy. Keeping her inside is a good idea. Our cat likes to be vacummed and likes to get in all sorts of bags. She is 14.

January 11th, 2008, 09:50 AM
Here's a better pic of baby and his baby blues..;)

I have found it harder to teach a deaf kitten.Of course because he couldn't hear.I tried the signing,we sucked at it.LOL.He was quite the biter and attacker.Still is but not that bad.He does do things that none of my other cats have ever done.He will sit there and swat in the air.There is nothing there.He will lay on the table,lean over and start swatting at nothing.

He is my special boy....:)

January 11th, 2008, 09:58 AM
"He is my special boy...."

... and a beautiful boy too!

January 11th, 2008, 10:16 AM
Awwww thank you....:)

The one thing with a deaf kitten is you loose them in the house.LOL

January 11th, 2008, 10:45 AM
Mona - gorgeous kitty - looks very much like our Blanche did. In her own way, Blanche managed to "hear" everything that went on in the house - open the fridge she was there etc. No doubt felt the vibrations. And of course being deaf she though it was great fun to knock things from the counters etc. - and to try and blame the poor Beagle. My Eskimo has very dark black eyes - the one thing I knew for sure when we adopted him was NOT to get an American Eskimo with Blue eyes or we would be in serious possible trouble - probably about now. Nothing wrong with his hearing though - he is a Barking Fool.

January 12th, 2008, 01:00 PM
what a cute white kitty Rocco my big boy is white with blue eyes when he was born we wondered about him being deaf but it turned out he wasn't he can hear you open a can of tuna 10 miles away lol

January 12th, 2008, 02:49 PM
Deafness mostly exists in white cats. They shouldn't go outside since they can't hear approaching cars or danger. I haven't heard that they could be prone to certain diseases.

January 12th, 2008, 04:06 PM
I better add my:2cents:,I had a white cat before Vinnie,his name was Peppi,he was pefectly healthy,until he became diabetic and later cancer,but that could have happened to any cat.
Vinnie,my odd-eyed wonder has been tested for any hearing-problems and there isn't any,he can hear a pin drop in another room:laughing:
Mona,your special boy is sooo beautiful,I remember when you got him:cat:
Everybody has seen my boy often,but here he is anyway:lovestruck:

January 12th, 2008, 04:30 PM
Thank you Thank you...:)

He is still a handfull chico.Still gets in his attack mode...:rolleyes:

Vinnie is quite the handsome boy.So unique looking with those eyes.

Even though white cats with blue eyes are prone to deafness,not all are.

I know of a Persian breeder in my area.Actually she shows more than breeds.None of her white/blue eyed persians have been deaf.

Guess it just depends...:shrug:

January 12th, 2008, 05:54 PM
Thats it Chico!! PM me your addy so I can start my car and take a little road trip at which time I am cat napping Vinnie, he reminds me too much of Blue menu... I miss him so much:sad:

SO, plan is as follows, Pm me address, I'll drive over, knock at the door selling your something, you invite me in as I am so sweet:D, then I will non shalauntly reach down pick Vinnie up and RUN like a mad half sweede out the door into my car with him, then heading back up to the north ... K?


January 13th, 2008, 06:50 AM
Erykah:laughing::laughing:you don't whisk him away that easy,he's almost 18lb's:laughing:
Little Karma would have competion:cat:
For some reason I thought you were in Quebec,or maybe you just never told us where you were.:confused:

January 13th, 2008, 06:59 AM
she's in the great white north... Northern Ontario. No idea where exactly that's just what it says for her location. I'm intrigued, though as I'm from Michigan and lived in the Upper Peninsula (UP) for many years, loving its harsh winters and feeling of remoteness. I bet it is beautiful up there... :)

January 25th, 2008, 09:49 AM
Many blue-eyed white cats are deaf, but not all, and some are only partially deaf. I advise all white cats to stay indoors, since they are prone to sun damage, and ultimately skin cancer.

Some feline family lines will also have unique health problems linked to that line simply because of significant in-breeding, and some of these may be coat pigment related. Since these are isolated lines, other family members in that line may show similar problems.

I can't advise in the general sense simply because these lines are unique in their health problems.

Dr. Van Lienden

Dr. Raymond Van Lienden DVM
The Animal Clinic of Clifton
12702 Chapel Road, Clifton
Virginia, U.S.A. 20124

October 3rd, 2013, 11:53 PM
Mona B and Chico2, you have beautiful cats. My Polar is deaf and he knocks things off the shelves, in the bathroom, and on the ledge. :) Chico is not deaf as he had 2 black spots on him when he was born and they are brothers. My Fantom is pure black. Polar has gold eyes though

October 4th, 2013, 06:59 AM
My sister has a deaf white cat and discovered that a laser beam gets her attention. Be careful not to shine it in the cats eyes!