White cats and deafness
White cats are prone to deafness, however, not all white cats are deaf. Blue-eyed white cats are the most likely to suffer from deafness. If a white cat is deaf, she will not be able to hear her kittens when they call to her and she may, therefore, ignore them when they need her attention. A deaf white cat may not be aware if her kittens are in trouble or are mewing for attention. White cats who suffer from deafness are not inherently bad mothers but will not be able to respond to the kitten’s cries.
Genetic hearing loss in white cats
White cats with the genetically linked hearing loss will pass on this gene to their white kittens and so it is best that cats with deafness do not have kittens to avoid passing on this hearing defect. If more hearing white cats have kittens, and deaf white cats do not have kittens then the gene will become less common and could potentially become rare or lost altogether.
White cats with hearing loss are very good at compensating and use their feet to sense tiny vibrations. They make full use of their vision and are very watchful as they use their sight to monitor their environment and safety.
White cats can respond well to gestures as they cannot hear voices and the cat may itself use gestures to communicate with you.
Deafness in cats with two different coloured eyes.
A cat with one blue eye and one yellow eye with the gene for deafness will only be deaf in the ear next to the blue eye.
In this genetic defect, the cochlea (the snail-shaped organ in the inner ear) starts to degenerate soon after birth. If you want to test your cat’s hearing make sure that they cannot see you as they will pick up clues from watching you. Remember too that the cat will sense vibrations nearby so banging an object on a surface is not the way to test the hearing. Try calling the cat, shaking the biscuit or kibble bag. Better still get your cat checked out at the vets.
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