Why White Cats Are Deaf: Are They Prone to Deafness Or Not

Are white cats born deaf? Read on to discover once for all the answers to this mysterious occurrence. Read on.

It’s a general rule for white cats to have blue eyes. That ocean deep eye color goes perfectly with a smooth white coat. However, not all white coat cats have blue eyes.

In fact, only 85% of white cats are born with blue eyes, while the rest of the white cats are born with brown eyes or some other color.

For years, people believed that white cats are born with blue eyes and deaf. Is this true?

In reality, the chances of a white cat being born deaf are only 22%. This may not sound like a high percent at first, but 22% is actually a huge number.

As you may expect, hereditary deafness in white cats is a real issue and presents a major concern in white cats, and even more, is if one or both irises are blue in color.

Researchers found that only 17 to 22 percent of white cats with non-blue eyes are born deaf.

The Odds of Deafness in White Cats

If you own a white cat, you know how much time and care you should invest in taking care of her beautiful coat.

Keeping that coat shiny and healthy isn’t time-consuming, but it asks for consistency.

Brushing your cat weekly is a bonding experience. This is a great way to check your cat for fleas or any sign of skin infection.

Just make sure that you use the right grooming tools.

As a white cat owner, you are most like in love with her beautiful coat and striking blue eyes. You might know that this appearance comes with a few implications that go deeper than appearance.

A condition called congenital deafness is present from a cat’s birth and is exclusively seen in white-coated cats. This condition may affect one ear or both, it depends.

Signs of congenital deafness will always be evident within several weeks of birth. This is the main reason why many veterinarian experts claim that there is a strong relationship between deafness and white cats with blue eyes.

Various studies came to the conclusion where 17 to 22% of white cats without blue eyes are born deaf.

This percentage is even higher, up to 40%, in cats that have only one blue eye, and somewhere between 65-85% of all-white cats are born deaf.

According to scientists, a gene called W is responsible for a cat’s appearance, white skin, and white hair color.

White color appears when the W gene suppresses pigment cells known as melanocytes.

When that happens, the vascular system of a cat’s inner ear structures also contains melanocytes which maintain the high potassium levels of the fluid surrounding the sensory hair cells in the ear.

When sound waves bend the inner ear hair cells, they open special channels that allow potassium easy access to the cells.

In turn, potassium triggers the nerve cell that enters the brain in the auditory nerve. If high potassium levels are not maintained around the hair cells, they die.

The final result of this process is deafness. This usually happens after a few weeks after a kitten’s birth. The resulting deafness is complete, with one or both ears affected.

If a cat is deaf only in a single ear, that she is going through a condition called unilateral deafness.

These animals are hard to identify by behavior, as they reach to sound in much the same way that cats with complete hearing do.

Congenital deafness usually occurs in domestic cats with a striking white coat.

As mentioned earlier, this condition is caused by a degeneration of the inner ear. If white cats aren’t deaf, they may pass on their genetic disorder to offspring.

What To Do If You Suspect That Your Cat Is Deaf?

If you suspect that your cat has hearing issues, or that she is completely deaf, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

If you think that your cat is losing her hearing, you should still immediately contact the veterinarian.

There is a hearing test for pets, it’s called BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response).

This test is available at specialty veterinary practices and schools of veterinary medicine. This test must be performed by a specialist, and it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

Now, you may ask if there is a specific treatment for inherited congenital deafness, but the answer is no.

So far, there is no treatment available when it comes to fixing these issues. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t specific ways that can help you provide your cat with a great life.

Unilaterally deaf animals tend to get along fine with hearing in only one ear.

For bilaterally deaf cats, you should think about incorporating the following steps into your routine and lifestyle:

  • Keep deaf cats indoors
  • Cat-proof your home to keep her safe from possible physical harm
  • Protect them from people, especially if there are infants and toddlers around her
  • Have patience

Living with a deaf cat is like living with any other cat, just you need here more patience and extra time. Deaf cats are wonderful pets. Let’s how it is to live with a deaf cat.

Living With A Deaf Cat

When people think about disabilities in cats they usually focus on physically obvious differences.

However, disabilities come in various shapes and sizes, some are easily spotted at first, while others are hidden in a way, like deafness. Deaf cats are like hearing cats, just in a different way.

If your cat is deaf or if you are thinking about adopting a deaf cat, there are certain things that you should know.

Living with a deaf cat can be a great experience as long as follow the right guidelines, and arm yourself with extra patience.

In return, you will get a lovable and affectionate fur companion.

It all comes down to a routine. Since there are no special health worries linked with deafness in cats, you shouldn’t have any special health concerns. You should just focus on routine in the household.

The main thing that you should know about living with a deaf cat is that they are visually attuned to their surrounding. Therefore, take advantage of using your body language to communicate.

  • When she looks in your direction, crouch down toward the floor and extend your hand to call her to come to you. You can use a small tasty treat to reinforce her instinct.
  • If she jumps onto the kitchen counter or a table, spread your arms above your head ina wave-like posture to show her that you aren’t happy with her action.
  • To teach her to stay away from certain areas, you can use a squirt bottle filled with water. This action isn’t painful, but you shouldn’t overdo it.
  • Create a schedule routine to help her feel comfortable. Teach her where the feeding location is and when meals happen. For example, you can pet her first thing in the morning, then change her water, and serve food, etc. By doing this every day, you will create a routine and she will always have a feeling of the familiar, even if a cat-sitter has to jump in from time to time.

So far, you know that deaf cats are highly visual creatures. They tend to be very alert to their surroundings when they are awake. This is why you should focus on getting her attention – a simple laser pointer can do wonders.

Deaf cats will also appreciate touch and vibration. Extra stroking, brushing, and combing are mandatory, next to cuddling. Always show your cat how much you care about her.

Also, regular play is a great way to communicate with your deaf cat. Learn various indoor cat games, have enough interactive toys on hand, and provide a nice cat tree for her to have all in one place: where she can rest and play.

At-risk Breeds

White cats are at higher risk of being deaf, but little is knowns that purebred cats are the ones at the highest risk.

Here are the purebred cats that are at high risk of congenital deafness:

The Bottom Line

You should always remind yourself that a deaf cat is a deaf cat. Yes, this one is obvious, but people can easily forget that their deaf cat functions differently. So, what may be interesting to a hearing cat, can be disturbing to a deaf cat, etc.

To avoid any unwanted situations, protect your deaf cat well. Keep her outdoors, no matter how much you might believe that she should be outside exploring the outdoors.

By keeping her inside, you are actually keeping her safe. Learn how to communicate with your deaf cat properly, and educate your children how to behave around one.

With a bit of patience, hard work, training, empathy, and consistency, deaf cats can lead a normal, long, happy, and healthy life.

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