Deafness with cats

Witte katten

It is a known fact that kittens are born without their sight and hearing.

They have to rely on the purring of their mothers, and are thus luckily able to feel. That is, for example, how they know when it is time to drink. However, this is only a temporary phase.

Still, some cats do experience permanent deafness even afterwards. This can be caused by various reasons, such as ear mites, ear wax, an ear infection, a bleeding ear, a tear in the eardrum, aging, or even a congenital anomaly. If you notice, for example, that your cat does not react at all when you turn on the vacuum cleaner, chances are he or she might be deaf. In that case, it might be best to consult your vet in order to test your cat.

The relation between congenital deafness and coat- and eye color

In cats that are completely white, the W(hite) gene is dominant. That gene ensures that the cat’s coat is completely white. White cats can have various eye colors, such as blue eyes. When a cat has one or two blue eyes, it might be more likely that the cat is deaf due to a congenital anomaly. The dominant gene W ensures that his or her coat is completely white and that gene plays a role in the development of his or her hearing abilities. In the 3rd or 4th week after birth the blood supply to the middle ear is disrupted, which means that the cat can be deaf in one or both ears. Only after this phase, starting from week 5, the vet is able to determine whether your cat
will be permanently deaf.

So don’t forget to visit the vet in case you suspect that your cat might be deaf. It certainly isn’t a life-threatening condition, unless your cat likes to go for a walk outside now the weather is improving. If he or she is not able to hear others on the roads, this may cause serious problems for him or her. Unless you have a cat that is East-Indian deaf (as we say in Dutch). Then he or she has a selective hearing problem: more in the sense of, I just do whatever I want to do. Then you really have a problem…