Just like people with disabilities deserve the best life they can get, so do our pets. Most people will look for a healthy, happy kitten when getting their new cat, and that is fine. Some people, however, will take on a cat who needs some extra help. We give advice on giving a deaf cat the best life possible. They deserve it!
1. Body language
If your cat is unable to hear, she will have to make more use of her other senses. You will therefore have to be very aware of your body language. Deaf pets learn to adjust quite fast, especially if they were born deaf. As your cat will not be able to hear your commands, use your body to convey to her what you are feeling. For instance, if you want to reward good behaviour, keep your face relaxed and friendly. Use a frown when she is doing something that you don’t approve of. If you are consistent and all family members play along, you can even develop a special sign language for your cat, indicating to her things like mealtimes, playtime and the like. Give her a treat when she gets it right, and she will soon learn to understand you.
2. Let the kids help
Children should always be taught to be gentle with pets, but in the case of a deaf cat this goes a little further. As your deaf kitty won’t be able to hear your child approach and his sudden appearance may give her a fright, teach your child to always approach the deaf cat from the front, slowly, and then to gently pet her. This is important, because a cat who gets a fright might just react out of fear – resulting in a nasty scratch.
3. Safety first
If your cat is deaf, it’s best that she is an indoor cat. She should never be allowed outside unsupervised. If she decides to roam outside she will not be able to hear traffic, people, dogs or anything else that might put her at risk. If you would like your cat to enjoy the fresh air outside, a good idea would be to ask a behaviourist to assist you – you might be able to train your cat to walk on a leash, which will enable you to keep her safe.
4. Monitor her health
Deafness as the only symptom does not necessarily mean your cat is at risk of other health problems. Some cats become deaf as they age, pretty much like humans. When it comes to cats who were born deaf, the cause might have been a genetic condition though. This means that other health risks can occur. For example, many white cats are deaf, and they might also be sensitive to cancer on their ears or noses. If you have a cat who has been born deaf, be sure to take her for regular checkups at the vet, so that you will be prepared for future problems that may arise.
Be a hero
Living with a cat who has a hearing problem might be a challenge, but you will be surprised by how easily they adjust. In the end, you will have a best friend with a slight disability. If you are looking to adopt a cat, and you feel like you can cater for a deaf one, do consider it. Sadly, these are the cats who are overlooked in favour of kittens or healthy cats.