The sound of silence
Are you worried your cat is deaf?
I love our cat. I may have written that once or twice on this blog before. Dave is a marvellous creature; glossy, playful, cheeky…
We didn’t notice it at first. Heck, I didn’t think there was problem to a start with. Yes, a white cat is more likely to experience problems with its hearing but Dave isn’t a pure white. His white mother has no hearing problems and, as far as we know, none of his feline siblings have any issues with their ears.
But, over time we noticed how he seemed to be in a little world of his own at times. He wouldn’t acknowledge us if we entered a room behind him. He wouldn’t come if we called out his name. The sound of the vacuum cleaner didn’t faze him in the slightest, even when it was right up close to him. But the scariest and most telling thing of all was that he couldn’t seem to hear the cars when he roamed around outside the front of our house.
I took Dave to the vet for a diagnosis and she confirmed what we thought. She said the only way to know for sure is to carry out an ECG test but that it’d be a futile exercise because he ticks the main boxes for deafness:
- No reaction to sounds (such as someone walking into a room) when his back is turned.
- Not coming when his name is called.
- Not responding to loud noises, particularly from a vacuum cleaner or car.
- Being startled if he is staring out of a window, curled up and snoozing, or playing with a toy and you go to stroke him. It’s as if he didn’t hear you coming and was taken by surprise.
- Very loud meowing, as if he doesn’t realise how noisy he is.
We talked about how best to care for a deaf cat and here are my vet’s recommendations:
Don’t let him roam outside on his own.
Because deaf cats can’t hear cars approaching and therefore don’t understand how dangerous cars and motorbikes can be, they shouldn’t be allowed to roam. Ideally, a deaf cat should become a house cat.
Cat-proof your garden.
Even the most contented house cat will want to experience the great outdoors once in a while, particularly during summer. Allowing your cat an element of outdoor freedom is the single biggest, most important thing for his overall well-being. You should investigate options such as special fence top barriers and outdoor cat enclosures to make your garden as cat-proof as possible.
Keep him stimulated.
It’s vital for any house cat to receive lots of stimulation to stop them getting bored. They need games to play and toys to throw around so stock up!
Buy a special collar which ‘advertises’ his disability.
Invest in a collar you can personalise. Make sure it that says your cat is deaf. That way, if your cat ever manages to do a ‘Houdini’ and escape from your home, at least people will be aware of his disability. We bought Dave a personalised one from Kitty Collars which does the job well.
Buy another cat for company? Not necessarily.
Some information on this ‘ere internet suggests getting another cat to keep your deaf cat company. Be careful though because a second cat could actually make things worse. Depending on the nature of your cat, they may feel pushed out or unloved for instance. If you’re adamant you want another feline around the house, be sure to match their personalities carefully. The last thing you need is 2 cats that can’t stand the sight of each other!
After I’d seen the vet, a family member told us that the kindest thing to do would be to give Dave to a local farmer but we were horrified by the suggestion. Deaf or not he is still our cat, a member of this family. And we wouldn’t be without him.