Last week I wrote about loss of hearing and deafness in dogs. This week, we’ll explore the same afflictions in cats.
I have two cats. My husband and I adopted these sisters more than a decade ago. Always curious, they have brought us great joy. This summer they will be 13 years old and have slowed down since becoming seniors. I once had a cat who lived to be almost 19; in fact, cats 20 years and older are not uncommon. However, with age, just as with humans and canines, come health issues. One of those concerns is loss of hearing, even deafness.
Feline Hearing Loss
According to VetWest.com, an Australian veterinary clinic, hearing loss in older cats occurs “as a result of damage to the ear system and nerves. Normally sound waves vibrate the ear drum between the outer and middle ear. The tiny bones in the middle ear transfer the vibrations into nerve impulses within the inner ear. When any portion of this system is damaged hearing will be affected.”
According to veterinarians at Cornell University, there are a variety of reasons for loss of hearing in cats, in additional to aging. Those include: tumors, polyps, and other growths in the ear canal; hypothyroidism; medications, including antibiotics; infestations of yeast, bacteria, and ear mites; and household chemicals that are ingested or somehow seep into the ear. Additionally, hearing loss and deafness is hereditary, especially in white cats with blue eyes. In fact, researchers believe 65 to 85 percent of all-white cats with two blue eyes are born deaf, or at least become totally deaf as young kittens, and white cats with one blue eye generally have a 40 percent chance of being deaf.
How You and Your Cat Can Cope
As a cat owner, there are some things you can do to help both you and your cat adjust to hearing loss and deafness.
Learn more about deaf cats and how to help and communicate with them at these websites:
Living with a deaf or hard of hearing cat presents challenges, but nothing that a loving pet parent can’t handle. With plenty of patience and positive resources, including tips from your veterinarian, you and your feline friend can enjoy many happy years together.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.