By Jennifer Moore
Living with a deaf cat is a very different experience than living with cats who can hear. The first thing you learn is that you obviously cannot call them by their name and expect a response. I never realized just how much I actually communicated with my ‘hearing’ cats by talking to them until Mikey came along.
By nature, cats like to sleep in hiding places which is fine but when you are doing a ‘deaf cat head count’ several times a day, or when they slip out the door into the woods, life can get interesting to say the least.
Sensitivity To Vibrations
Cats who are deaf are more sensitive to vibrations, so I use this to my advantage when I am searching the house for Mikey, I learned that if I stomp my feet on the floor, he comes out from hiding within a minute or two. He comes out every single time so that is how I call him.
If Mikey slips outside the stomping method is futile but with his white fur finding him during the day is not as much of a challenge as trying to find him at night if he gets out. I learned that a flash light being turned on and off will guide him back to me most of the time.
Most of the time was not good enough odds for me so I taught my Standard Poodle ‘Jessie’ to find Mikey and she does the best job ever. All I do is let her out and tell her to “find the kitty” and she does every time.
The best way to avoid all of this is to make sure every window has a secure screen and that everyone is aware of the importance of shutting doors. We actually attached a bungee cord to all the doors that lead outside, this way they automatically shut when you let go of the handle. He rarely gets out anymore.
I have heard that some people put bells on a deaf cats collar to make them easier to locate but this is not an option for Mikey because living in the mountains means that wild animals could locate him as well and he would be unaware of their presence. So getting outside is the biggest danger but being in danger is not the only time you need to communicate with a deaf cat.
I figured out early on that Mikey is not disabled. Mikey is very capable and very bright, so I taught him sign language, he knows…
- Come here
- Get down
- bye bye
- Time to Eat (he knows this one best)
- Lets go outside
- It’s Mommy Mikey Lovey time 🙂 ( my favorite)
These are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head, there are more because I talk to Mikey all day long. It doesn’t have to be the traditional sign language either, it’s just about using the same signal every single time for each thing you ask of him. He caught on quick.
He Looks At Me Often
The one thing that I notice the most with Mikey that differs in the hearing cats…is how often he is looking at me . This is important and it’s learned because he loves to communicate with me and he waits for me to tell him things. 🙂 He pays attention because if there is something going on he wants to know about it.
The up side to living with a deaf cat is a big one….they are not skittish at all and he will cuddle bug with me all night long because he doesn’t get woke up as easily as most cats. I love this part the most. I am careful though in how I wake him up if he is asleep because he can’t hear me coming and will wake up with the loudest meow you could ever hear when startled awake. So I usually just wave my hand back and forth as I approach him so he can feel the shift in the air, it’s subtle enough to not startle him or me.
I live with two deaf cats and I have applied everything I have learned with Mikey when raising Daisy as well and it works with her too.
Play With Other Cats
It takes a commitment to raise any cat but especially a deaf one. I have other cats in the household and Mikey is clearly the king of them all, mostly because when they play, he doesn’t hear them cry if he hurts them. The hearing cats usually let go when they hear the other let out a screech. Mikey doesn’t hear it so he just keeps right along playing and so the others think he is mean, I can tell by how they walk around him. 🙂 I am usually close by though and referee is just one of my titles.
If one is willing to commit to the care it takes in raising a deaf cat, I believe the relationship that can be established with the cat is like no other. It has been an amazing experience.
- We rescued a deaf white cat
- What percentage of blue eyed cats are deaf
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