Whether your cat is elderly and losing his hearing or born deaf, caring for a hearing-impaired animal is a challenge. After you’ve adjusted to the idea of your cat’s hearing loss, you’ll find your behaviour changes quickly to communicate with your animal. You’ll find new ways to call your cat, new ways to play and still have a wonderful and meaningful relationship with your feline friend. And you’ll be able to provide him a secure and happy home.
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Confirm with your veterinarian that your cat really has hearing loss. If your cat is young, make sure the underlying cause is identified.
Adjust your communication. At feeding time, tap your toes on the floor to call the cat. Your cat can feel the vibrations if she's relatively close. If your cat is on another floor of the house, bang your hand on the steps or flick the hallway light switch. Develop a consistent communication pattern with your pet.
Deaf animals get startled easily, so gently pat the surface where your cat is sleeping if you need to wake her up. Flicking the lights will also help wake the cat from a nap.
When your cat is looking directly at you, move your hands in a “come here” motion and pat the floor to call him. Most cats can’t resist a good petting and will come when summoned. Be consistent with this communication and practice it often. Very soon, your cat will react every time he sees your “come here” sign language.
Make time every day to pet, cuddle and play with your cat. Hearing-impaired cats need company. The warmth of your hands is a balm to them in a silent world.
Recognise that your cat might need a companion. Deafness increases the level of loneliness for any animal or person. If you really feel your cat is lonely, consider getting another cat. Carefully screen any potential animals. You want to make sure this new friend is gentle and not aggressive. Many rescue organisations have foster parents who are very aware of their foster animal’s personality.
Tips and warnings
- Purchase a laser light cat toy at the pet store for playtime. Both of you will come to love this time together.
- Do not let your deaf cat outside. He cannot hear cars, lawnmowers, mean dogs or potential threats. It is absolutely unsafe for a hearing-impaired animal to be left outside.