Categories: deaf

What percentage of white cats are deaf?

Odd-eye color all-white cats

People are interested in the prevalence of deafness in white cats. Fortunately, a useful research study tells us the information that we are looking for.

The study is entitled: Aetiology, Prevalence and Diagnosis of Deafness in Dogs and Cats By George M Strain who is a specialist working in the field of veterinary physiology, pharmacology and toxicology at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.

George Strain refers to studies (listed below) in which deafness was examined in mixed-breed white cats. He states that out of 256 white cats from three studies, 12.1% were deaf in one ear (unilaterally deaf) and 37.9% were deaf in both ears (bilaterally deaf). In other words, 50% of the cats were affected by deafness.

When white cats that were the offspring of two white parents were examined, the prevalence of deafness both in a single ear or both ears ranged from 52% to 96%.

The effect of blue eye colour in white cats on deafness resulted in the finding that 85% of the cats were deaf in one ear (unilaterally deaf) and 64.9% were deaf in both ears for cats with two blue eyes. If the cat had one blue eye the occurrence of deafness was 40% for unilateral deafness and 39.1% for bilateral deafness.

If a white cat had no blue eyes then the prevalence of deafness was 16.7% and 22% respectively for unilateral and bilateral deafness.

As for specific breeds of cat (purebred cats) it is said that they have a lower prevalence of deafness then mixed-breed (random bred) white cats. There appears to be no information or data available to support this statement.

Cats reported with congenital (inherited) deafness or with the potential to be deaf include those cats carrying the dominant white gene or the white spotting (piebald gene).

For the sake of completeness, breeds carrying the dominant white gene and at risk for congenital deafness are: European White, Foreign White, White Cornish Rex, White Devon Rex, White Manx, White Persian, White Scottish Fold, White Turkish Angora, White American Wire Hair, White American Shorthair, White British Shorthair, White Exotic Shorthair and White Oriental Shorthair (Gebhard et al 1979).

Studies: Gehardt 1979, Bosher & Hallpike 1965, Bergsma & Brown 1971, Mair 1973, reviewed by Delack 1984, Delack 1984)

This is source document for this article: Study on deafness in cats and dogs 1996

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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