Hearing Loss in Cats: A Preventative Guide

Hearing in cats can be affected by everything from infection to old age. Depending on the severity of the infection, your cat could experience temporary hearing loss, which can be treated through antibiotics. If the hearing loss is a result of old age, your cat may lose his hearing permanently. While it is impossible to prevent hearing loss resulting from old age, it is possible to prevent temporary hearing loss. Before you can take steps to prevent hearing loss, it is important understand the different types of hearing loss and symptoms.

Types of Hearing Loss in Cats

Hearing loss in cats typically starts in the ear structures. Hearing loss can be one-sided, partial or full. One-sided hearing loss means that the cat can only hear out of one ear. Partial hearing loss in cat's means that the cat can still hear out of both ears, but just barely. Full hearing loss means that the cat can no longer hear out of either ear. The different types of hearing loss in cats can be either temporary or permanent.

Temporary hearing loss can result from mild infections, ear mites, tumors or polyps, untreated infections and from the use of certain drugs such as diuretics or amino-glycoside antibiotics. Untreated ear infections, as well as old age, injury to the ears and excessive exposure to loud noise can also cause permanent hearing loss in cats. In certain cases, cats can be born deaf, especially blue-eyed, all-white cats.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss

If your cat is experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is possible that he might be deaf. The only way to know for sure, however, is to take your cat to a vet for testing. Symptoms of hearing loss in cats include:

  • Unresponsive to loud noises and other outside stimuli
  • Unbalanced walking
  • Disorientation
  • Reddened ear canals
  • Black or yellow discharge from the ears
  • Does not realize you are in the room until touched
  • Doesn't wake easily when you try to wake him

How to Prevent Hearing Loss in Cats

There are several ways to prevent hearing loss in cats. The first step is to get to know your cat's ears by examining them regularly. This way if even the slightest change occurs, you will notice. To examine your cat's ears, begin by checking the color and cleanliness of the canals. Your cat's ear canals should be pink and free from discoloration, little black dots (ear mites) and dirt. While cats constantly give themselves "baths," meaning, they are very clean, their ears could still use some TLC from the owner from time to time. Clean your cat's ears as often as you can to keep him free of dirt and debris that can cause infection, as well as ear mites.

Next, you should refrain from using medications and antibiotics unless a vet has prescribed them. Medications are a common cause of temporary hearing loss, so do not try to treat your cat for any type of infection on your own. You should, however, take your cat to the vet immediately if you suspect that he has an ear infection. As stated earlier, untreated ear infections are a common cause of hearing loss in cats.