Family Magazine

How Do You Know If Your Cat is Deaf? Understanding Feline Deafness

By Lucifer Bui

Being a cat owner is no easy task. It is as difficult as raising a kid, if not more. Your little feline member will need your love, care, affection, attention and much more. From their regular nutritional needs to their medical health, you need to take care of them all. One of the many issues that a cat owner faces is finding out that the cat has got hearing issues. Feline deafness isn't uncommon. However, the challenge is to understand that your cat is deaf or suffering from partial deafness. There are quite a few ways your cat can be tested for deafness. Let's find out how.

Check for Cat deafness at home

Know Your Deaf? Understanding Feline Deafness How do you know if your cat is deaf? Understanding feline deafness

Before you plan to visit a vet, it is best to perform some home tests to know how good your cat's hearing ability. Here's how you can test your cat for deafness at home.

  • Make some noise out of your cat's sight. Beating two pans together or making sound using your cat's treat box will be perfect. Stay out of your cat's sight while doing this. Also, make sure that whatever you are using to make the noise should not create a breeze that your cat will be able to feel. If you see that your cat gets startled by the noise or looks in the direction of the sound, it is a good sign. This proves that your cat can hear. Remember, you should make sure that there are no external sounds disturbing the cat when you perform this test.
  • Notice if your cat is getting less startled by the sounds that it did not like at one point of time. The sound of vacuum cleaners is one such. If you find a change in a behavior that has been prevalent for long, then it might be a sign of your cat becoming deaf over time.

Get your cat checked for deafness at a clinic

If you found your cat to be deaf, the next step is definitely to visit the vet. However, there are conditions under which your cat might be partially deaf. If you suspect such a thing, it is best to pay the vet a visit. Getting your cat's hearing checked by a professional will allow you to know for sure if your cat is suffering from any hearing issue and what is the extent of the problem, if present.

BAER or Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response test is a specialized test that will give you the exact evaluation of your cat's hearing ability. You need to make sure that the clinic you are visiting has the test equipment. If not, then you will need to find a testing center that does. The BAER test involves attaching three small electrodes to the head of your cat. The machine then makes noise in different frequencies and measures the brain activity to judge the response of the cat to the auditory stimulus.

The BAER test has two variations. The first one is a basic test that lasts a few minutes. It checks if your cat is completely deaf or not. The longer duration test is for about 20 to 30 minutes and checks the entire hearing range of your cat. Generally, for the longer duration the at needs to be sedated. With the BAER test, you can have confirmation whether your cat is suffering from any form of deafness or not.

How to live with a deaf cat?

Know Your Deaf? Understanding Feline Deafness
How do you know if your cat is deaf? Understanding feline deafness

If your cat is suffering from any form of deafness, it needs your attention, love and care, more than a normal cat will need. You need to understand its needs and also make sure that it has a healthy and safe life. So, how do you prepare yourself for this challenge?

Begin by making your home safe for the cat. You need to understand that the cat uses auditory cues much like human beings to understand the surroundings and be prepared for any danger. Without the hearing ability or with impaired hearing ability this can be a challenge. You need to ensure that the house is safe for your cat and that it does not hurt itself simply because it cannot hear. If you have any type of machinery that emits sound while operating and you cat stayed clear of it at the time of operation, make sure you cover is or make it inaccessible to your feline pet. Building a specific place within the house where your cat will love to stay is a good way to make sure that your cat stays out of trouble.

Ensure that your cat stays indoors. Alternately, you can create a barricade around an open space that will allow your cat to enjoy the outdoors without being able to get near the traffic. One of the biggest risks with a deaf or partially deaf cat is from the traffic as they are generally unable to sense an oncoming vehicle.

A really great way to make your deaf cat's life easy is if you get a company for your feline friend. There are many cases where a cat with healthy hearing ability helps a cat with hearing defect. In time the deaf cat learns to follow the cues of the cat with good hearing ability. So, when you are giving them some treats, the sound of the box of treats will make the healthy cat go running to the kitchen, and the deaf one will follow out of curiosity. But, remember, this will only work if the cats get along with each other.

For the purpose of communicating with your deaf cat, you can start developing some hand signs. You can use a beckoning sign when you want your cat to come to you. And, when you want the cat to go somewhere, you can teach it to follow where you are pointing. Remember to appreciate with a treat every time your cat does what you are gesturing it to. This will speed up the training process. You may even try tapping on the floor or stomping to get your cat's attention using the vibrations created.

You need to remember, having issues with hearing makes the cat's life difficult and challenging too. You need to be understanding and compassionate and help make it a better one. Your love and care will make their days happy.

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