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Some of the most beautiful cats are pure white but it is widely believed that all white cats, or all blue-eyed white cats are deaf - but this is not so.

A small percentage of white cats are deaf. The gene for white is 100% effective in preventing the formation of pigment in fur and the hearing ability of any given white cat depends on whether it has one or two genes for white and their interaction with other genes.

Foreign white cats with blue eyes are rarely deaf as the mode of inheritance of the coat and eye colour is different.

It is relatively easy to determine whether a cat or kitten is deaf.

One person should stand in front of the cat, keeping its attention. The other person should be behind the cat. They should not move, as many deaf cats learn to feel vibrations through the floor. Yell loudly or bang saucepans together. Do not stomp on the floor. Most hearing cats will run away or show signs of fright. At the very least, a cat will turn their ears around to hear the sound better. If you can yell repeatedly with the cat not even turning its ears, it is almost definite that it is deaf.

Another way to confirm this is to watch the cat for a period of time. When cats move their heads around, then often move their ears independently. They can look left and keep their ears pointed at a sound to the right. Deaf cats almost always keep their ears pointed straight ahead. If you can watch your cat for 5 minutes when it is not in a deep sleep and if it does not turn its ears to follow sounds in the room, then you can suspect that it is deaf.

Your veterinarian can help with hearing tests. Deaf cats should be neutered and not used for breeding.

Deaf cats can still make wonderful pets for special owners. It is essential that a deaf cat be kept entirely inside to protect it from the dangers of dogs and traffic - neither of which it could hear coming. They quickly learn to "hear" the owner approaching inside as they learn to feel the vibration of a footfall through the floorboards.

Deaf cats should always be approached from the front so that they can see you - they may take fright if approached from the rear. Deaf cats often benefit from the company of another cat with normal hearing so that it becomes the "ears" for the deaf cat.

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 06/02/07 14:50 Views: 2617

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