What is deafness?
Deafness is the inability to hear. At birth, all kittens are born deaf because their ears are closed initially. But healthy kittens undergo rapid maturation and are able to hear within the second week of life.
How does my cat become deaf?
White cats with blue eyes are more susceptible to being born deaf. Up to 40 percent of white cats are deaf in both ears and 12 percent are deaf in one ear. In addition to congenital reasons, chronic ear infections, exposure to loud noises, injury, disease (such as otitis media), medications, toxins and advanced aging can also cause deafness in cats.
How do I know if my cat is deaf?
Deafness can be tricky to detect in young kittens or in settings with many cats because the deaf feline will tend to blend in and follow the others. One at-home test to try is to isolate the cat from other pets and distractions, step out of your cat’s sight and make hissing sounds or clap your hands and wait for reaction by your cat. Your cat may sleep more or be harder to arouse. If you suspect your kitten or cat is deaf, your veterinarian may refer you to a specialist who can confirm the diagnosis by conducting a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test. Minute earphones are inserted into the ears of the sedated cat while a series of clicking sounds are emitted into each ear. The test looks for reactivity in the cat’s brain whenever a sound is emitted. This test can also determine if the cat is deaf in one or both ears.
What can I do about deafness?
There is no effective treatment available to restore hearing in cats born deaf. However, a deaf cat can enjoy a long, healthy life, especially when the owner takes proper precautions. First, deaf cats should be kept indoors and not allowed to wander outside. Bacterial infections can sometimes cause temporary deafness. When treated promptly with antibiotics, the infections usually subside and the hearing may return.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my cat from going deaf?
Like people, some cats are born deaf or lose their ability to hear when they become old. Try to keep your cat away from loud noises and seek veterinary care to treat ear infections immediately.
Are there certain breeds that become deaf more often?
Birmans, Himalayans, Orientals, Persians, Siamese, Turkish Vans are among the breeds most affected. Congenital deafness can also occur in some white, blue-eyed cats.