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Hearing Loss in Cats - What to Look For

'can kitty not hear me or something?' maybe.


We’re all aware that cats are the pets with really good selective hearing — going to the vet? Nowhere to be found. Going to the kitchen for a snack? They’re right beside you, all snuggles and purrs (No judgement if you cave and give them a treat occasionally). Performances aside, cats have a strong and sensitive sense of hearing, which helps them hear something as tiny as a mouse rustling in a bush 30 metres away, and are even more likely to go deaf than humans if their ears get exposed to loud sounds repeatedly (Yes, your mom was right — again).


Getting older is the main reason cats lose their hearing (and other major body functions), and some kittens are born deaf (they tend to meow more often and play a little rougher since they can’t hear their fur siblings), but if neither of these situations apply to your kitty and you think something’s off with their hearing (reddened ear canals, black or yellow discharge coming from the ears are major red flags), here are some signs there may be more going on with kitty’s hearing that’s not by choice.

Photo by Ivan Radic via Flickr.


They (genuinely) don't seem to hear you 
Something’s really up when the kitty you know and love doesn’t come running when you start opening the good food can. Unresponsiveness to the point where kitty can’t even tell you’ve entered a room without a mini heart attack could be a sign that something’s wrong with their hearing. Another clue is when they’re asleep and no amount of noise (whether from the sounds of passing cars, your weekly virtual singing lessons) seems to wake them up from their cat nap.

Photo by Cathy via Flickr.

Very loud meowing
At one point you’d describe your cat as the silent type, rarely heard until you need “reminding” about something you haven’t yet taken care of (the “you STILL haven’t cleaned my litter box yet?!” meow is unmistakable). Now for some reason you seem to be living with a Chatty Kitty whose reminder meows can be heard from next door (apparently you can also get reminder texts from your neighbor to change the litter...great!). The reason loud meowing could be a sign of hearing problems is because kitty can’t hear how loud they are, which is kind of obvious now that you think about it…
   

Physical discomfort around their ears
Cats don’t let on when they’re not feeling well or in pain, making whatever’s bothering them worse by the time you notice and make an appointment with the vet. That said, kitty can’t hide everything all the time and if you catch them pawing at their ears or shaking their head frequently, see pink or scaly patches on the tips of their ears (this one is most common with white cats or cats with light colored ears), or finding pus coming from the ears, call the vet immediately.

Whether there’s a serious health concern going on, or kitty just happens to be getting up there, most conditions can be taken care of — or at least managed properly — when caught early enough.

Next week we’ll talk about different ear diseases in cats, what to look for, and how you can help.


Photo by Ivan Radic via Flickr.

Stephanie Pollard
Writer. Pet Enthusiast. Ambivert.

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1 comment

  • My tuxedo kitty is 13 yrs. scratches ests quite a bit. I use oil for mites when i see a little black in his ears. He goes out under our porch ocassionally , not an outdoor cat. He may have ear problem too never thought he could be losing hearing his eyes starting to look older not as clear as when he was young so sad

    Barb Stuff

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