5 Tips For Living With A Deaf Cat
You may have heard that all white cats with blue eyes are deaf. While not true, blue-eyed white cats have a higher chance of being born deaf than kittens who aren’t white. According to research, up to 85 percent of white cats with blue eyes are born deaf, while only up to 22 percent of white cats without blue eyes are born deaf. Interestingly, white cats with one blue eye can be deaf in one ear and is almost always the on the same side as the blue eye.
Which brings me to Rosie. Almost 2 years ago we fostered this sweet little kitten. She was about 5 weeks old and was brought to Lollypop Farm after being found wandering outside all alone. We brought her home to cuddle her, feed her, and love her until she was old enough to go back to Lollypop Farm to be spayed and put up for adoption.
Right away we discovered she was deaf. How did we know? Our other foster kittens always knew when we were coming to the foster/laundry room and would meet us at the door meowing to greet us. Instead, Rosie would be sound asleep and not wake up until we gently moved the blanket she was sleeping on. I could walk in, throw in a load of laundry and leave again, all without her waking up.
I wondered what this would mean for her future. I could see she was growing into a sweet loving kitten, but she frightened easily when we would seemingly pop up out of nowhere. Seeing her reflection in a mirror or the window would terrify her.
Despite these episodes, she was getting used to the flow of our household. Our other cats accepted her and the dogs didn’t bother her. She learned that bedtime meant canned cat food and if the other cats went running, she should follow them. She learned that when I made a ‘come on’ motion with my hand that meant to see what I had for her.
When it was time, we brought her back to Lollypop Farm to get spayed and put up for adoption. We ended up bringing her back home after several days and she has been here ever since. Along the way we’ve learned a few things about living with a deaf cat.
1. Keep Your Deaf Cat in the House
This really goes for all cats, but especially for deaf cats. There are so many dangers outside for a deaf cat from other cats, dogs, wildlife, and cars. I hate to think about tiny Rosie being outside by herself and what could have happened to her if she hadn’t been found right away.
2. Don’t Declaw Your Deaf Cat
Again, this really goes for all cats, but especially a concern for deaf cats. If they were to get outside, and it can happen to the most careful pet owner, their claws would be their only defense.
3. Respect Your Deaf Cat’s Personal Space
Rosie is very affectionate and loves to cuddle, but it’s on her terms. I never just pick her up for a cuddle like I do with the other cats. I wait for her to come to me and reward her with pets and treats.
4. Teach Everyone in the Family How to Interact with Your Deaf Cat
Everyone in the family needs to know how to interact with your deaf cat. This means not plopping down on the chair next to your sleeping cat or reaching down to pet her when she is asleep. This can cause the cat to be afraid and you may end up with some nasty scratches. Knowing what scares your cat and keeping these situations to a minimum whenever possible will help her feel safe, secure, and more confident in her environment. Everyone in our family knows not to quickly scoop up Rosie while she is sleeping. If they want her to move off of their favorite chair or homework they gently nudge whatever she is sleeping on. This is enough to wake her up and see someone is there and then they are able move her.
5. Make Your Home Safe for Your Deaf Cat
Make sure all your screens are secure to prevent your cat from accidentally getting outside. A lot of pets get out when there is a contractor in the house. They often get let out by accident or they run out because they are afraid. If you need some work done in your home, set up your cat in an extra room or bathroom before the contractor arrives and make sure the door stays closed until the contractor is gone.
Living with a deaf cat isn’t really any different than life with a hearing cat. Just simple common sense and a willingness to be a little flexible for your deaf cat will ensure you both enjoy each other’s company for years to come.
Meet Angel, our Lollypop Farm Pet of the Week
Angel came to Lollypop Farm because her owner could no longer care for her. She’s an 11-year-old female domestic shorthair. She likes to hang out with other cats and play fetch. She’s shy at first but, once she warms up to you, she’ll want to warm up your lap! Angel is available free of charge to approved adopters, age 60 and over, through Lollypop Farm’s Seniors-for-Seniors program.