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Tips for Helping a Deaf Cat

Learn how to help a deaf cat in your home.

Cats that are deaf can benefit from some small changes in how you train and interact with them. Because they aren't able to hear you calling for them or giving commands, you'll need to come up with other ways to get their attention and tell them what you want them to do.

What Causes Deafness in Cats?

Cats can be born deaf or lose their hearing later in life. Some cats that have white fur and blue eyes are also deaf or partially deaf due to genetics.

Cats can experience decreased hearing over time as they age, and that might eventually lead to total deafness.

Cats can become deaf as a result of several ear conditions, including polyps, cancer, and damage related to ear infections or ear mites.

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Deaf

It can be tricky to tell if a cat is deaf, and if he suffers from partial deafness, it can be even harder to determine. Often, a deaf cat acts pretty normal while he's inside the house doing his normal routine, but you might notice that he sleeps more soundly than other cats or gets frightened easier.

If you want to test your cat for deafness, try waiting for a time when you are behind him and rattle some keys or clap your hands. Watch carefully for your cat's response to that noise. Even if he doesn't look over, a hearing cat will show you that he heard the sound by moving an ear tip in your direction. If you don't see any such reaction, especially if you try this several times, your cat is probably deaf.

How to Help a Deaf Cat

If your cat is deaf, he should stay inside. Outside, many dangers exist for cats, and these are even more concerning for cats that can't hear. For example, if your cat can't hear the sound of a car coming when he's crossing the road, he's more likely to be hit. You may wish to teach your deaf cat to walk on a leash or build an outdoor catio enclosure so he can safely be outside.

Inside, you can help your deaf cat by training him to respond to hand signals. You can do this the same way you would teach a hearing cat to respond to voice commands—by using positive reinforcement and frequent training sessions. You just can't use a clicker or voice praise during training.

While you are training your cat to recognize voice commands, train yourself to avoid startling your cat by sneaking up on him. Avoid touching him if he's sleeping. Try to get his attention when you enter a room in which he's resting by stomping on the floor to create vibrations or getting in front of him so he can see you.

You can also turn the light switch in the room on and off to give him a visual cue that someone is present. Keep a laser pointer in your pocket, which you can shine in front of him to get his attention and then move toward yourself to show him you're there.

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