It can be an age-related problem but some already suffer from it as kittens: here’s how to tell if your cat is deaf and how to deal with the problem.
Dealing with the health problems of our cat is never easy, but we begin to reassure ourselves that a deaf cat can easily live with this ‘handicap’. It could be a problem that occurs from birth or a discomfort that comes with advancing age, therefore completely normal. In a way we should expect it, and it will also be quite gradual. Hearing, as well as the eyesight of the cat, may fade as the cat gets older, but there are many ways to deal with the problem and continue a peaceful life. The important thing is to understand in advance the signals that the animal can send us: here is how to understand if your cat is deaf or is about to become one.
The cat’s hearing
Already in the article dedicated to cat hearing we described the feline’s incredible ability to perceive sounds, especially if we compare it to the human one. A sound that is imperceptible to the human ear is perceived by the cat at 1/1000 of its intensity. Hearing also serves the cat to ‘filter’ useful information for its own survival: it has sharpened this sense to feel the presence of predators, therefore the danger, or possible prey, therefore food. The cry of a mouse can be heard by the cat up to 20 meters away. Even if age creates problems for the cat, the feline will be able to compensate for this deficit with the other senses, namely touch and sight.
But we can notice it in time if the cat no longer hears us, especially if until some time before it did not give any ‘worrying’ signal. Let’s think, for example, of when he noticed our presence well before he saw us appear at the door of the house, or when he heard the can of his favorite food being opened. In short, there are some signals that it is up to us owners to interpret to understand if the cat is deaf or suffers only from some ear disease.
Why a cat is deaf: the possible causes
It could be a trauma but also simply of advancing age. In fact, in the life of a feline deafness is a frequent, almost inevitable disorder after the first 10 years of life. But certainly it could be a deficit present from birth, both temporal and permanent.
If it is a momentary disturbance it could be an infection or a disease due to the presence of bacteria, fungi or parasites inside the ear canal. For a cat that goes outside the house, even if only in an outdoor space in front of the house, they are quite frequent probabilities. In other cases, an external object may have taken hold and remained obstructing the auricle. Or it could be earwax, due to poor hygiene and personal care of the cat by the owner. Treatment with some medicines may also have deafness as a side effect. Finally, the cat’s possibility of developing ear tumors or polyps should not be underestimated.
When the problem is addressed in time, there are usually no major problems in restoring a situation to normal, even in a fairly short time. But realizing the cat’s probable deafness in time will make us face the problem in time with more hope of solving it.
How to tell if a cat is deaf
Failing to express itself clearly, it is up to us owners to interpret the signals that a cat that is going deaf could send us. Once the problem has been highlighted, it will be necessary to rely on the opinion of the expert to understand the cause: often these are poorly treated infections, which over time have given rise to even rather serious injuries. In addition, there are some genetic factors, such as white-haired and light-eyed cats, which seem to be more prone to developing this problem. There are some tricks to tell if a cat is deaf or not. Here they are below.
- Let’s call him by name,
- let’s open a can of his favorite food,
- we make noise while he sleeps,
- let’s start the vacuum cleaner,
- we pay attention to his reaction when we arrive home without being seen.
We also pay attention to what the cat does, so if:
- its meows have a more intense sound,
- seems to stagger in walking,
- has problems with balance,
- suffer from vomiting episodes.
If in all of these cases the cat’s response is ‘nothing’ then it is likely that it is deaf. Usually a cat approaches the entrance door when he senses the arrival of the owner, they wake up if they hear noises, especially when they are distracted or are sleeping. When the vacuum cleaner is running they normally jump in fear, but if they only see the object moving they may not even hint at escape.
What if he’s only deaf in one ear? He may make head movements as if to ‘show’ the ear that it hears well and try hard to perceive noises with that. We can also snap our fingers near the deaf ear to see if it triggers the cat or not.
How to live with deafness
We have already said that the cat is a resourceful animal and, despite the ear problem, it would be able to compensate for this lack with the other senses. But certainly a cat that does not hear us is more exposed to dangers, especially when it is outside the house and is not protected by its owner. It is therefore up to the owner to try to avoid that the cat spends too much time outside the home, to prevent it from ending up on busy streets or in places full of predators.
As for everyday life, both the owner and the cat will have to acquire a new language to communicate, not made up of words but of gestures. In fact, it will be about taking advantage of sight rather than hearing! When the cat makes progress and begins to get used to the new signals, let’s reward him so he will be more stimulated to do so.