Do you share your home with a deaf cat? Or have you wondered if, perhaps, your feline friend is hard of hearing? If so, you’ve likely wondered how to give a non-hearing cat the best life possible. Like their hearing counterparts, deaf cats can enjoy happy, enriching lives. And for the most part, they do not need much in terms of specialized care.
Whether your cat was born deaf or lost their hearing due to age, illness, or injury, there’s no reason for their quality of life to suffer. As your cat’s veterinarian, we’re here to help you give them the best life possible — even if they have special needs. That’s why we decided to share some tips on how to help your deaf cat live their best life. Read on to learn more.
Understanding Feline Deafness
Much like humans, cats experience deafness for a variety of reasons. Some are born without hearing or are genetically predisposed to deafness. For example, white cats with blue eyes are often deaf. And those with two different colored eyes are often deaf in the ear on the same side as the blue eye. Cats may also lose their hearing due to chronic ear infections and severe injuries. Age-related hearing loss is common in senior cats as well.
Cats who cannot hear are more in tune with their other senses. They are sensitive to vibrations — like the vibration in the floor when you walk across the room — and air currents. They tend to pay closer attention to their family members, too. Because they compensate for their disability so well, many cat owners don’t even notice hearing loss in their feline family members.
Is Your Cat Deaf?
If you suspect that your cat might be deaf, reach out to us to schedule an appointment. In addition to determining whether your cat is deaf, we’ll figure out the cause of the disability and recommend an appropriate course of treatment when necessary. Additionally, some signs could indicate that your cat cannot hear.
Signs of deafness in cats include:
- Not responding to their name when called
- Not responding to the sound of a treat bag or can of cat food opening
- Meowing louder than usual
- Sleeping longer or more soundly
- Easily startled
- Not reacting to previously distressing sounds, like barking dogs, the vacuum cleaner, etc.
Living with a Deaf Cat
Whether your cat was born deaf or developed hearing loss later in life, there’s no reason they can’t live a happy and fully enriched life. They are no more difficult to care for than any other cat. You just may need to make a few adjustments to keep them safe and happy. And since deaf cats can’t hear themselves meowing, you may have to learn to cope with some pretty loud yowling from time to time.
Do not let your deaf cat venture outdoors. Without hearing, they cannot perceive the sounds of potential dangers, like predators, cars, and heavy machinery. They also can’t hear you calling them to return home. Deaf cats often feel vulnerable to predators, and they tend to startle easily. This can lead to increased anxiety and, in some cases, aggression. To avoid frightening your feline friend, approach them from the front so they can see you coming. If they are asleep, walk with solid steps or stomp your feet as you enter the room. The vibrations from your footsteps will alert your cat that someone is approaching. If that doesn’t rouse your cat from their slumber, blow gently on their fur.
How to Communicate with Your Non-Hearing Feline
Cats adapt quickly to deafness and rely on their other senses to compensate for their inability to hear. Using vibration is the easiest way to let your cat know that you are approaching, as mentioned above, but there are additional ways to communicate with them, too.
When your cat can’t hear you speaking, use visual cues. Most cats are fast learners and respond well to hand signals. You can even develop your own form of sign language and use it to communicate with your furry friend. Teaching your cat basic signs is a remarkable bonding opportunity. Training takes patience and persistence, but once your cat understands a few basic gestures, you’ll be able to call them to you, let them know it’s dinner time, strike up a fun game of fetch, etc., without ever “saying” a word.
Though your deaf cat cannot hear you, you can still speak to them. Place your lips on your cat's head or back while telling them how much you love them, and they’ll feel your breath and the vibration of your voice. Many deaf cats come to enjoy this type of communication, so don’t be surprised if your feline friend approaches you and presses themself against your lips.
With proper care, your feline friend can enjoy a happy and enriching life regardless of their ability to hear. If you have any questions about caring for your deaf cat or need help determining whether your pet can hear, we can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.