Deafness in Cats
The ears of cats are sensitive and delicate; as such, they are prone to being damaged or infected, sometimes leading to deafness. Cats can also be deaf right from birth through a genetic defect. Deafness in cats isn’t terribly common of course, but it is more common in blue eyed, white haired cats. Cats can be deaf in one ear or in both ears and your cat has to be tested in order to check for deafness and how prevalent it is. There are two forms of deafness in cats: conduction and neurologic.
Deafness through conduction is caused by things like wax build up, infections and damage done to the delicate membranes in the ears. Conduction deafness usually comes about if the cat’s ears aren’t cleaned routinely, they come into contact with a lot of bacteria, which is transferred to the ears or if your cat gets sick and has a lingering infection in the ears.
Conduction deafness is, for the most part, temporary. The best way to deal with it is to clean out the ears and apply any antibiotics needed for any infections. Letting it go for too long though will result in damage that will be more long term and permanent, so make sure to keep your pet’s ears clean!
Neurologic deafness is more serious and long term. This form of deafness is caused by damage done in the sensitive parts of the ear, as an example, the cochlea or abnormalities found anywhere from the ear to the brain. This form of deafness can be inherited and is also caused by things like toxicity or simple old age. Neurological deafness cannot be cured or reversed and though hearing aids can help, most cats don’t want anything to do with them, so they simply put up with the deafness instead.
Diagnosing a Deaf Cat
There are a number of signs you’ll get that something is amiss with your cat’s hearing. The most obvious way is that your cat won’t respond to you when you call his or her name, but since some cats live to ignore you, this is not the best test used to determine deafness. Other ways to tell if something is awry is if your cat is sleeping more than usual, your cat not responding to a noise in another room, or shaking and pawing at ears in discomfort. These are all good indications that something is wrong with your cat’s ears.
Living with a Deaf Cat
If your cat is diagnosed with deafness, either in one ear or both of them, then your pet’s life need not be over; you just have to take special care of your furry friend. Make sure to carefully supervise any outdoor excursions of your cat because the slightest thing can cause injury to him or her. Also make sure to keep your cat’s ears clean no matter what the cause of deafness was because a build up of wax and toxins will make your cat even more uncomfortable and irritated. Finally, make sure to apply any antibiotics as needed.
Deafness in your cat need not be the end of the world for your pet. In fact, it takes little more than a lifestyle adjustment for your pet and for yourself. With some care and attention, your cat can go right back to living the life it always lived, deaf or not. As with anything, when you’ve got a chronic illness on your hands, it’s recommended that you maintain a good relationship with your Vet. New therapies are developed all the time for pets and your Vet can continue to advise you as your cat advances in age.