Hearing loss in cats can be unilateral or bilateral. If deafness is expressed only in one ear, the owners may not even be aware of the presence of the disease in the pet. There is only one way to check this fact. When the cat is sleeping, curled up, make a loud sound. If there is a reaction from the pet, then there is no reason for concern. In the same way, check the other ear when the cat rolls over on the other side. Deaf people adapt very quickly to life and are almost no different in behavior from their healthy counterparts.
How do you know if your kitten or cat is deaf
If both ears are hard of hearing, you will notice this immediately by the cat’s behavior. It sleeps soundly, without twitching its ears in its sleep. Such animals do not react in any way to noise and are not afraid of loud sounds. They remain indifferent to the opening of the refrigerator door and opening a bag of food. Even a vacuum cleaner, which is a threat to many pets, does not cause them any anxiety; on the contrary, deaf pussies even like the air currents it creates. The same signs appear in older cats, but it is caused by senile deafness.
Hearing-impaired cats are thought to meow too loudly because they cannot regulate the strength of their voice. But this is not always a sign of deafness.
Interesting! The sound ranges of humans and cats are very different. While humans can hear sounds between 20Hz and 20kHz, cats can hear sounds between 48Hz and 85kHz.
How to test if a cat can hear
You can test your pet at home to see if it is hearing impaired. All you have to do is make a loud noise. A healthy cat will turn around and respond. A deaf cat will not react at all to the stimulus. To be sure the cat should not see you, and cats with hearing loss may not react to the noise, but to your hand movements or vibrations in the air. The reliability of this method is 95%. If the environment is very familiar to a cat, he sleeps soundly and has no fearful temperament, he might not react to the sound.
To get accurate information about the presence of your pet deafness is possible only at the veterinary clinic. And not in every clinic. Nowadays, a medical test has been developed, which is conducted with the help of special equipment. During its implementation the frequency and intensity of nerve impulses of the brain, which appear as a result of sound exposure, is measured. Cats that do not hear noise have no such impulses at all, which proves the presence of deafness. Diagnosis is very rare, often the owners at home quite accurately determine the absence of hearing in cats themselves.
Symptoms of deafness in cats
Congenital deafness does not always appear from the first days of a kitten’s life. Sometimes hearing is lost only after 2-3 weeks. In adult cats, auditory function begins to decline with age. But these animals are famous for their endurance for a reason, because they have a very developed compensatory function. When their hearing begins to deteriorate, their other senses become acute, and they help animals to orientate in space and to catch every movement in it.
But deafness sooner or later becomes clear to the owners, when the animal begins to react differently to familiar situations. For example, if before it was enough to open the door of the refrigerator or rustle the bag with food, so that the fluffy immediately rushed in the hope to get something delicious, with a hearing loss, the animal ignores these once attractive sounds. Kitties stop responding to the call of the owner, to which they used to rush happily. In addition, they are not frightened by loud claps and do not respond to noise.
Deafness is not a serious condition unless it is caused by inflammation in the ear. As soon as you suspect your pet has symptoms of hearing loss, you should see a veterinarian. Either you will be prescribed treatment that will restore the ability to hear. Or they will confirm the presence of deafness and give recommendations on the care of such an animal.
Types of deafness in cats
There are two main types of deafness in cats:
Conduction deafness is caused by difficulty in passing sounds through the middle or outer ear, which is why it is also called conductive deafness. Most often it is caused by illnesses or infections which lead to a build-up of fluid inside the ear, damage to the eardrum or occlusion of the ear canals. In this case, hearing is only partially lost. With the right treatment, it can be restored with medication or surgery.
This deafness often begins at birth and develops during the embryonic stage. It has no treatment at all. There is a severe disorder of the inner ear. The most common case of sensorineural deafness is total deafness, while partial deafness is very rare. It may also occur in adult cats as a result of age-related destruction.
Diagnosis of deafness in cats
The ears have a rather complex structure, only the coordinated work of the eardrum, middle and inner ear helps the animal to hear well. If there is a problem at any of these stages, hearing is lost. This phenomenon is often seen in older cats due to age-related changes.
Deaf cats are also called “perpetually asleep” because they cannot be awakened by even the loudest sounds that cause healthy individuals to react. Normally, normal cats react to the appearance of a person in advance, especially if he does not tiptoe, but just walks at a normal pace.
You can check how close you have to come for the animal to hear you. You need to take several measurements to find out the exact distance from which the pussy begins to hear, as it may be different each time depending on the phase of sleep. The average is taken as the truth.
Another sure way to determine if a cat is deaf is to call out to your pet from another room. If a cat doesn’t respond to your voice, there’s a chance that it has a hearing loss. True, some cats may deliberately ignore you to show you who’s boss.
Only a veterinarian can make a definitive diagnosis of total deafness. A specially designed BAER (Brainstem Auditory) test can do this. The procedure is painless for the animal, and the most important thing is to hold the cat and let the doctor place a special clip on the ear with electrodes. Each ear is examined separately, and for this purpose the second ear is covered with an earphone or a foam plastic insert. Then an acoustic noise is made and the reaction of the brain is checked. A well hearing cat will have impulses in the brain in response to the sound, and this will be reflected on the monitor screen. With deafness, the brain does not respond to noise, so no impulses will appear.
Deafness is not a reason to give up a pet. Such pets get along very well with their owners and even interact with them, but the reaction is no longer to their voice but to their gestures or facial expressions. The owners of such pussies learn to establish eye contact with them, so human and animal get along very well, understanding each other without words.
How to take care of a deaf cat
More often than not, deafness is a feature of cats with white hair and blue eyes.
Such kittens are born with a congenital defect, they almost from birth learn to live with such features. As compensatory functions, they develop excellent sense of smell, sight, and touch. This is why their lives are virtually no different from those of healthy cats.
When wanting to buy a cat with a white coat one should always remember the risks and be ready for them. Usually the breeder himself reveals the defects in development, and then he makes sure that the animal will not give birth, and the mutant gene will not spread throughout the generations. The owners are warned about the peculiarities of the development of their kitten, but this is not a reason to abandon the baby. It is enough to follow only a few rules of care to ensure his comfortable existence:
- While the kitten is small, move around the house carefully so as not to inadvertently step on him. Remember that he cannot hear your footsteps.
- Make eye contact with the cat and accentuate encouragements and reprimands with clear articulation. Later he will get used to it and will understand your words.
- Make more vibrations in the air when you approach the cat so that he feels you approaching him. Don’t frighten the cat by grabbing him suddenly from behind.
- Don’t let the cat out of the house alone, there are too many dangers. Even in an enclosed garden plot, keep the animal in view.