White domestic cats often make bad mothers

Deaf white cats
Deaf white cats. Image by MikeB.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The title sounds unfair and biased but it isn’t as it is based in biological fact. The prevalence of deafness in pure white domestic cats varies depending on whether they have two blue eyes (the highest proportion of deaf cats), odd-eye colour or non-blue eyes (least likely to be deaf in both ears). Where the cat has odd-eye colour, if the cat is deaf, it is in the ear on the side of the blue eye (the eye without pigmentation in the iris).

Deaf mothers can’t hear their kittens’ cries for attention and don’t respond as well as they might if they had normal hearing.

The title may be unfair in one way. Cats are very good at compensating for the loss of one of their senses. Deaf white cats improve their watchfulness by using their excellent eyesight to the maximum.

They will also detect vibrations caused by sounds. They cope admirably with their disability.

The deafness caused by the inherited gene – dominant white – which leaves the hair strands without pigment (melanin) causes the inner ears’ cochlea to degenerate a few days after birth. The deterioration is completely irreversible.

For this reason, it is important to not breed from white cats if possible as the dominant white gene is inherited. How do breeders of white cats cope with this disadvantage? Perhaps the percentage of white purebred cats is very low compared to other coat types for this reason. I expect breeders to breed only from hearing white cats (both parents).

A vet or the cat’s owner can carry out a hearing test by making a sound and watching for the response. The sound generation should avoid vibrations in surrounding objects for the reason mentioned above.

On the matter of prevalence of deafness in white cats ChatGPT (AI chat bot) says this:

It is estimated that about 5-10% of white domestic cats are born deaf. This is because the gene that causes the white coat color in cats is often linked to congenital deafness, particularly in cats with blue eyes. However, not all white cats with blue eyes are deaf, and deafness can also occur in cats with other coat colors. It’s important to note that deafness in cats can also be caused by other factors such as aging, injury, and certain diseases. If you suspect that your cat is deaf, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and advice on how to care for your cat’s specific needs.

Cornell – a respected source states:

Researchers found that only 17 to 22 percent of white cats with non-blue eyes are born deaf. The percentage rises to 40 percent if the cat has one blue eye, while upwards of 65 to 85 percent of all-white cats with both eyes blue are deaf.

Below are a couple of pages on white cats and deafness. There are more articles. Please search.

Why are white cats with blue eyes deaf?

Deafness in cats – causes, diagnosis and management plus dog info. too

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