“My cat seems to have gone deaf”

Elderly cat who was partially deaf

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

People are asking Dr Google for advice on why it seems that their cat has gone deaf. This means that their cat has lost hearing substantially. Below is a list of possible causes of feline hearing loss.

  • old age can cause a gradual loss of hearing. Although old, deaf cats sometimes retain their ability to har high-pitched sounds; higher than can be heard by people
  • middle ear infections
  • head injury
  • ear canal blocked by debris and wax
  • certain poisons
  • certain drugs: the antibiotics streptomycin, gentamicin, neomycin and kanamycin when used for long periods can damage the auditory nerves leading to deafness together with signs of labyrinthitis (inflammation of the nerves of the inner ear). This may cause balance problems for your cat. If both deafness and poor balance are present it seems a cat owner should look to these drugs as a possible cause.

As it can be tricky to tell if a cat is going deaf it is possible that some cat owners are mistaken when they state that ‘my cat seems to have gone deaf’.

When a cat lacks attentiveness to sounds this may be an indication of a loss of hearing. We know how sharp a cat’s hearing is and how her ears swivel at the slightest sound. If this normal behaviour is consistently lacking it may indicate a problem.

The simple test is to make a loud sound while your cat sleeps. If she does not respond by waking up this surely must be a clear sign of a loss of hearing.

Deaf cats get on well using their senses of sight, smell and their sensitive whiskers to overcome hearing loss. For these reasons it may not be clear that a cat has suffered hearing loss.

P.S. Cats can be tested for deafness using the BAER test. It can be done at most veterinary colleges and some veterinary referral centers. The test can tell if a cat is deaf in one or both ears.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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