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How to Care For a Deaf Cat

 by danielle on 05 Aug 2014 |
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Loss of hearing in cats necessitates particular care from owners, with deafness a potential threat to their pet’s safety and general wellbeing.
Deafness may be congenital, such as in the case of white cats that are regularly born deaf, or derive from a number of other sources, including old age, injury, infection or as a side effect of particular medications.

If your cat shows little or no response to outside stimuli, such as his or her name being called or a loud bang, they may indeed be affected by hearing loss. Many deaf cats will not realise you are in the room until you physically touch them, especially if they are dozing. Disorientation, an unbalanced gait and difficulty waking are other signs your cat may be partially or entirely deaf. 
A veterinarian can perform a test such as BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) to determine your cat’s hearing levels. The procedure involves small electrodes being inserted beneath the skin to measure the amount of electrical activity occurring in the ear and brain. The procedure is painless and effective in providing precise information concerning animal auditory response.

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If your cat is diagnosed as suffering deafness, yellow or black discharge and reddened ear canals may indicate it is purely the symptom of a curable infection. Alternatively, your cat may have been born with a predisposition towards hearing-impairment or be simply ageing and the deafness is irreversible.
Even if treatment is out of the question, deafness is not in itself necessarily going to impede on your cat’s quality of life. However the impediment of one primary feline senses can lead them in to trouble, especially if they are let outside where they may not hear a car approaching, or a barking dog ready to attack. It is for this reason it is recommended that deaf cats live an indoor life, where safety issues can be minimised.
When in the house, be conscious that your cat may be startled by your sudden ‘appearance’, as they are unable to hear your approach. It is best practice to touch your cat gently as you enter and leave a room, so they can gain a sense of where you are in relation to them.
Cats with hearing issues can detect vibrations even if they can't hear the sounds that go with them. Tapping on the floor can attract their attention. You may even be able to develop a code such as two taps means ‘dinner’ and one tap means ‘pats’. Some deaf cats have even learnt sign language developed by their owners or to respond to different coloured lights. Remember – whilst they can’t hear, your cat can see and feel, meaning you, with a bit of creativity, can still communicate effectively.
Whilst deaf cats may need a little more TLC than cats without hearing issues, they make loving companions that can lead happy and fulfilling lives with your care.  


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