Cat Hearing Loss

Cat hearing loss can be caused by several infections or the perforation of the ear drum. Hearing is important for cat, as cats can determine how far a person or animal is, judging by sounds. A cat that has lost his hearing capacities can lead a normal life, but you should help him adapt.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be caused by an untreated infection (e.g. otitis), parasites (e.g. mites), tumors, toxic drugs or aging.

In some cases, the hearing loss is only temporary, so the cat can regain his hearing after the underlying condition is being treated.

Signs of Hearing Loss

If a cat is losing his hearing progressively, he may be able to make up for this handicap, so you might not even notice that your cat is going deaf. However, as the deafness advances, you will notice a few symptoms:

  • Your cat is not able to hear your calling, he will not respond
  • The cat is more fearful and gets easily startled
  • The cat is very vocal
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Shaking head
  • Touching of the ear area with the paws
  • Foul odor coming from the ears
  • Pus in the ear area
  • Scaly skin in the ear area

Types of Hearing Loss

The hearing loss in cats can be of 2 types:

  • Conduction hearing loss, caused by infections or cancer; this type is typically reversible if the primary cause is treated; if this condition is left untreated, the deafness can be permanent
  • Nerve deafness, which may be either inherited (in cats with blue eyes and white skin) or acquired during life, caused by a drug poisoning. Older cats can also lose their hearing and this is due to nerve damage and because the bones in the inner ear tend to fuse together. This type of deafness is typically irreversible.

Diagnosing Feline Deafness

An ear infection, ear mites and tumors may be detected by a veterinarian through simple testing.

If the hearing loss is caused by aging, a brainstem auditory evoked response test (BAER) is needed.

Treatment for Hearing Loss

If the hearing loss is caused by infections or tumors, you can reverse the condition by applying suitable treatment. After a thorough consultation, your vet may prescribe antibiotics for infections, insecticides for parasites or chemotherapy and radiations for tumors.

If the deafness is caused by aging, drug toxicity or is inherited, this is an irreversible condition, so you will need to help your cat to compensate for the hearing loss. Cats that cannot hear well will get easily startled, so make sure you don’t make sudden movements and give him a signal when you approach him; you may quickly turn the light off and on or you can stomp your feet, as the cat will detect this signal. You may also notice that your cat will learn to follow your commands; give a command and make sure the cat sees your lips moving and then show your cat what he has to do.

Cats may get adapted to being deaf, but you will have to offer him more support and affection.