How Do Deaf Cats Cope?
Cats are equipped with good vision, a keen sense of smell and exceptional hearing.
A cat's daytime vision may not be as good as human vision, but their night vision is far superior.
Their sense of smell is far stronger than that of a human.
They can also hear a far higher range of sounds than can humans.
All these keen senses help to make the cat the effective hunter that she is.
A cat without one of these three senses can still lead a fulfilling life, if kept indoors.
A cat allowed outside, or a stray or feral cat would not be able to cope too well without all three senses.
Deafness can be neurologic, meaning a disorder of the nervous system. This could be due to a reaction to a toxic drug, neoplasia (a growth,) or the kitten has the condition at birth. (All kittens are born deaf but should develop full hearing by around four weeks.)
The problem could be Conduction Deafness. Hearing loss due to infections, tumors, or defects of the eardrum, ear canal, middle ear or the external ear itself.
Can also be due to wax, or other debris blocking the ear canal. Conduction deafness may be treatable depending on the cause.
Ear mites if left untreated can do great damage to a cat's hearing and can even cause permanent loss.
The tiny mites can be so irritating that the cat scratches at her ears so much that it causes damage to the outer ear.
Over time the ear canals can become blocked with ear mite waste debris and cause hearing loss. - Deaf Cats and Ear Mites.
Perhaps the most common reason that cats become deaf, or lose most of their hearing, is simply getting older.
Usually the advancement of age related deafness is gradual and not evident until it has reached an advanced stage.
Cats who have lost their hearing bit by bit through aging, usually cope very well. A cat that is suddenly plunged into a world of silence however, may suffer stress and display behavioral problems.
Cats learn to adapt to living without hearing so it can sometimes be difficult to determine that a cat is deaf.
This is particularly so if the cat has had the condition from birth.
Calling for your cat is not a useful test as all cats are likely to ignore their human depending on their mood.
It is more tricky to establish if a cat is deaf in one ear.
You can observe how your cat reacts to noise and how she turns her head.
Try rolling a can filled with a few coins from behind her, first from one side then the other. If she seems uncertain of the direction the can is coming from it may indicate that she is deaf on that side.
Your veterinarian can test your cats hearing, (or refer you to a veterinary neurologist.) The cause and extent of your cats deafness can be established and any possible treatment carried out.
No, but white cats with blue eyes very often are born deaf.
White cats with yellow eyes are sometimes born deaf.
White cats with odd eyes, one blue one yellow, are sometimes deaf in both ears but more usually have hearing in one ear only, the ear the same side as the blue eye.
White cats with green or orange eyes are not commonly deaf.
A cat with any coat color or marking can be born deaf.
There are many white cats with perfect hearing.
Sometimes a few cat breeds get mentioned for producing more deaf cats than others. However this may well be because those breeds produce more white cats, and white cats with blue eyes, than other breeds.
Generally speaking, deafness is not connected to particular cat breeds.
Caring for a feline with hearing difficulty is no different than caring for any cat, with a few special considerations.
The exception being when the deafness has been caused by an injury or illness, your cat may need special care related to the illness but not specifically to the deafness.
A cat without hearing is likely to be startled if you approach, and touch her or him from outside her line of sight.
Try to always approach deaf cats so that they can see you, if you are going to pet them or pick them up.
Cats that have lost their hearing sometimes become very vocal and their meowing, yowling and other noises can be quite loud.
Being deaf, or hearing impaired, they are unable to know how loud they are. Other cats with hearing loss may only be as vocal as an average cat with hearing, or may even be quieter.
All in all deaf cats (or deaf kittens,) will be much like cats with full hearing – playful, naughty, lazy, sleepy, lovable, infuriating, affectionate.
As mentioned, a cat that suddenly finds itself in a world of silence will likely act out of character. Give her time to adjust and plenty of understanding.
Deaf cats cannot hear the approach of traffic, other animals or humans. It is best that a cat with hearing difficulty is kept as an indoor cat. Walking on a leash and outside cat enclosures are options however.
Your cat's claws are very much part of your cat. Yes they can be a small hassle on the odd occasion, but with a little management her claws should not be a big problem.