Cats are beautiful and unique no matter their coat color and pattern. We can sometimes decipher what breed a cat is by their coat color and pattern, but this isn’t always the case, especially when the cat in question has an entirely black or white coat. Sometimes, people correlate a cat’s coat with superstitions. For example, many people consider black cats to be bad luck, especially if they cross one’s path.
It’s also a common belief that white cats are deaf. Is there any truth to this? Unfortunately, this is not a myth, unlike the “black cats are bad luck” myth that is still perpetuated in society today. There is indeed a link between deafness and white cats. Here is what you should know about this topic.
The Link Between White Cats and Deafness
All cats with completely white coats have a chance of being born deaf. Up to 22% of white-coated cats without blue eyes are born deaf. This percentage increases to 40% in white cats that have one blue eye and to a 85% in white cats that have two blue eyes. The reason for the risk of these cats being born deaf has to do with genetics.
The autosomal dominant gene that is believed to cause a cat to be all white and/or have blue eyes is also believed to cause the cat’s auditory apparatus in one or both ears to degenerate. This gene does not affect all white cats with or without blue eyes, but as the statistics show, it does affect many of them. Some white cats are born deaf in just one ear, while others are deaf in both ears. Deafness usually becomes apparent to kitten owners after a few weeks.
Truly White Cats Are Rare
Only about 5% of cats are pure white. Of that 5%, between 15% and 40% are born with one or two blue eyes. This means that only a small percentage of the cat population is at risk of being born deaf due to genetics. Cats with any color pigmentation in their coats are not considered truly white cats and do not have the same genetic disposition that truly white cats do.
How to Successfully Live With Your Beloved Deaf Cat
It’s all about the visuals when it comes to living with a deaf cat. Since your kitty cannot hear you, you’ll need to use touch and “sign language” to communicate. For example, you can teach your cat that when you wave your arms over your head, you are unhappy with their behavior and want them to stop doing whatever it is that they are doing.
You can also crouch down to your cat’s level and extend a hand out to communicate that you’re happy with their behavior and that you want to bond through pets and cuddles. The use of a water spray bottle can also help correct unwanted behaviors. It’s not painful or dangerous, but it will certainly get and redirect your cat’s attention.
A laser pointer can be used to get a deaf cat’s attention too. Stomping on the floor will create vibrations that your cat can feel and respond to so you can communicate through your hands and facial expressions. It’s a good idea to work with your veterinarian to come up with a care plan that will help your deaf kitty live their happiest and healthiest life.
If your white cat turns out to be deaf, you can still provide them with a happy and loving home that helps them thrive in life. There is no reason that a deaf cat cannot live a fulfilling life of adventure and action, just like any other cat. Providing extra care and patience will simply be necessary for white cat owners.
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