Please note that some posts contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links Find out More

Say What? Helping Deaf Pets Deal with Schtuff

by | Mar 8, 2013 | Cat Behavior & Care | 4 comments

deaf dogdeaf catDeaf dog? Or maybe deaf cat? Seren became deaf. By age 17, she could still hear some things, but her hearing continued to deteriorate, especially in her last year with us.

It used to be I could call Seren to come watch the bunny on the patio, and she’d run from anywhere in the house. She’d always been a loud-mouth kitty, talking constantly and responding to our conversation, so she always had the last word. But her voice was always pleasant, almost a sweet mew. With her loss of hearing, her voice became louder, more strident, and she often cried especially at night with long drawn out yowls when she couldn’t hear to find us.

It’s not surprising. Aging cats commonly suffer hearing loss. I cover deaf dogs and deaf cats plus other aging pet issues in my old cat care book and aging dog book.

HOW WELL DO PETS HEAR?

In her youth, Seren (like all normal cats) heard much better than people. However, youthful pets hear better than middle-aged and older animals. Some cats are born deaf, or are genetically predisposed to deafness. For example, blue-eyed white cats can be born with a condition that results in deafness at an early age.

Hearing is something that cats are better at than dogs–but don’t tell the dogs! Normal dogs typically hear the same low-pitched sounds as humans, as well as frequencies as high as 100,000 cycles per second—people can only hear sound waves up to 20,000 cycles per second. Cat hearing is even more acute. Your cat can hear sounds in a 10½-octave range—a wider span of frequencies than any other mammal. That allows your cat to hear nearly ultrasonic rodent squeaks.

At least, Seren used to hear those mousy voices. Not anymore. Oh well, she never caught a mouse, anyway!

With age, the delicate structures of the inner ear begin to lose their sensitivity to vibration. This normal age-related hearing loss, called presbycusis, develops in every pet that lives long enough—just as it does in aging people. We’re going to be in BIG trouble if Seren lives another 10 years and I’m losing my hearing, too.

Hearing loss can be accelerated by damage from loud noises. Dogs that hunt and are exposed to gunshots for years and years are more prone to damage. Chronic ear infections may also result in hearing loss.

MAKING ACCOMMODATIONS FOR DEAF DOGS AND DEAF CATS

Deaf cats and deaf dogs can’t tell us that they’re hard of hearing, and they compensate by paying more attention with their other senses. In fact, strangers probably wouldn’t notice any difference in Seren. As long as she can see folks, she clues in very quickly on what’s going on. Deaf pets watch owners and other pets more closely, and cue off of their behavior to know that somebody’s at the door, for example. Seren alerts to Magic’s behavior when my husband comes home. Deaf pets also pay closer attention to vibration and air currents—the breeze made by an open door may cue them you’ve come home from work. Even when they can’t hear the can opener, the pet’s internal “clock” will announce suppertime.

So what do I do to make accommodations for my kitty? I make sure Seren can see me, and if she’s looking the other way, I tap the tabletop or stomp my foot so she feels the vibration. I don’t want to startle her, and this way she is alerted to my presence. If Magic should start to lose his hearing, he’s already learned many hand signals and probably wouldn’t miss a beat. Pets trained with clickers can instead learn to respond to the flick-on-off of a flashlight or a porch light switched on/off to call the dog inside.

Deafness also raises safety concerns. Can the dozing, deaf cat wake up in time to get away from an aggressive stray? Keeping all cats and especially deaf kitties inside is probably the safest option. Seren rarely went outside anyway, and then on a leash, so she’s not missing anything.

Seren is still happy and otherwise healthy. She still indulges in the “zooms” almost every evening, and enjoys putting the dog in his place. Have you ever had a pet with hearing loss? What were tips that helped you keep your pet happy and safe? Please share!

YouTube Button

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

4 Comments

  1. Marcia Richards

    My 8 month old kitten was born deaf. It’s been a challenge to train him to stay off counters and tables. We use hand signals like a flat hand held over him and gesture downward. If he is looking at me, I scowl and shake my head ‘no’, then take him gently from the forbidden surface. As he matures, he’s less and less interested in unrolling the TP roll and other fun-for-him but naughty acts. We are constantly aware of where he is. When we walk through a room, he doesn’t hear us coming and frequently is in our path. He can’t anticipate our movements.
    He takes cues from our 9 yo cat when it’s time to go to the kitchen for meals and when he should find a suitable spot for a nap. He does yowl when we go to bed and he can’t find us. I wish he were content with the company of his feline pal during the night. He’s so sweet and fun to play with that the challenges are well worth it.
    I do wish we could figure out how to make him understand he needs to keep his claws retracted when playing with us . Ouch!

    • Amy Shojai

      Hi Marcia, Those kittens have no off-switch whether they can hear or not. Nighttime is KITTEN PLAY TIME! *s* As for the claws, you might try trimming the needle sharpies with your own nail trimmers–one toe a night gets ’em all in a week or so.

  2. Patricia Hubbard

    This is a great informative article and helps me be more prepared and know what to expect if this happens to my older cats. Seren is so beautiful and what cat don’t like to look out the window? Do cats get cataracts as they age? One of my older cats gets those same zoomies every night at about the same time and throws his head back and kinda howls. It’s hilarious.

    • Amy Shojai

      Hi Patricia, cats (and dogs) do develop some age-related vision problems just like people. Cataracts are more common on old dogs than in cats, though.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Other-Abled Pets: Benefits of Adopting Disabled Cats & DogsAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] “Other-abled” pets don’t know what they’re missing. Despite loss of limbs, mobility, sight or hearing, they live and enjoy…

Categories:

Recent Posts

Chiropractic Care & Back Problems: Home Treatment Tips

Chiropractic care…do you use it? In the past I’ve had back issues and got relief after visiting my chiropractor. Chiropractic care works as well in pets as in people, too. In fact, many people with performance dogs regularly schedule chiropractic treatments for their canine athletes..

Cat chiropractic care may not happen as often. After all, felines practice their own form of yoga to stay limber. They’re also much lighter weight than many dogs, and perhaps that puts less strain on their bodies. Read on for some home care techniques that can help your pets.

Love Thrillers? Reminder about Emily Kimelman & Sydney Rye Series

👀 I spy a steal…I’m head-down in the plotting/writing of my next SEPTEMBER & SHADOW THRILLER #7! Lots of “schtuff” keeps sidetracking me from finishing DARE OR DIE, but hope to get the next story into your hands this spring. Meanwhile, here’s a reminder I’ve lined up some more great books for your reading pleasure. If you love crime and thriller stories with dogs (hey, you’re reading mine, right?) check out Emily Kimelman’s gritty Sydney Rye Mysteries, too. Oh my doG, tail-waging grrrreat fun.

The tagline of the series gets me every time: Sydney Rye and her dog exact justice with a vengeance. The dog doesn’t die, but the bad guys do.

I get that question a lot about my September & Shadow thriller series, too. So I borrowed (stole?!) the line from Emily and include it whenever folks ask. I also loved what she says about the dog “aging out” in the book…that it’s FICTION so the dog can live forever! (Heck, I just may steal that, too…don’t hate me, Emily!). Read on for a great deal on her books!

How to Leash Train Cats

Why would you want to leash train cats and confine kitties from stalking and pouncing? Isn’t that mean? Actually, it’s not cruel, but without proper introduction, it can be a wee bit scary. In my Complete Kitten Care book, I call this LIBERATION TRAINING. Teaching your new cat to walk on a leash is a safety issue, but also means they get to venture beyond the confines of your house and into the yard and beyond.

This week during a cat consult, a pet parent asked about training her cat to walk on a leash. It’s always a good time to revisit the notion. An adult cat won’t automatically understand the concept, though, so this blog not only explains the benefits of leash training to YOU, it also helps you purr-suade your cats to get a new leash on life. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Dog Choking & Cat Choking: First Aid & Pet Heimlich Help

Have your pets ever choked on something they chew? Shadow-Pup loves to chew up inedible objects, no matter how much we supervise. Learn how to administer the pet Heimlich to save a life!

When Karma-Kat came to live with us, that put lots of cat toys within Magical-Dawg’s reach. Seren had never been too keen on such things and she was already nine years old when Magic came as a puppy. He loved to swipe Seren’s “sparkle-balls” and ended up with sparkly poop. Once Karma’s toys added to the kitty quotient, the big ol’ dog had a field day seeing how many cat toys he could stuff into his jaws.

Bravo played with rocks. And the new puppy Shadow loves to chew sticks. He’s already got one caught in the roof of his mouth. That’s the perfect opportunity for choking, and a need for the pet Heimlich. I hope that we’ll never need it, though. In case you do, read on!

Do Readers Care Why I Write

Do readers care why writers write? One time at a writer conference, that question was asked and an overwhelming response was, “I write because I HAVE to write, it’s  compulsion, I must write…” And an agent on the panel responded, “They have medication for that now.”

Ba-da-boom. *rimshot*

My audience doesn’t read. Well, unless you count dogs and cats chewing up or (ahem) “being creative” on paper. And of course, cats “read” by sitting on top of the words and absorbing the text through their furry nether regions.

Yvonne DiVita tagged me years ago in the “Why I Write” blog hop. I know Yvonne through the terrific BlogPaws.com organization she co-founded, but today you’ll find Yvonne at NurturingBigIdeas. As I updated several out-of-date blog posts, I found this one as true today as when first written more than a decade ago. I talk more about my writer’s journey at my website, but here’s the crib notes. *s*

Why Dogs Bark & How to Stop A Dog from Barking

Do you know how to stop dog barking? “Will you please, for the love of doG, stop barking!” When Shadow-Pup joined our family, he and Bravo-Dawg egged each other on. Now that he’s the only dog, he and the cat tease each other and prompt bark-fest and meow-athons.

We love our dogs, but when noisy dogs get revved up, dog barking can drive us nuts. Shadow has a “demand attention” barking problem that shatters glass. He also loves barking at squirrels and tells on Karma-Kat when the cat gets on a counter, and at us when we can’t read his mind.

So what’s the answer–how to stop a dog from barking? The key to stop barking includes understanding why dogs bark.

Scaredy Cat? Teaching Shrinking Violet Shy Cats

Do you have a scaredy cat? Working with fearful and scared cats can be a challenge. Does Sheba hiss at strangers? Does Tom dive under the bed when the doorbell rings? Do your kitties attack other pets (or humans)? What can you do to stop bad behavior if even a mild correction sends the cat into fearful meltdown? Alexa posted her Ask Amy question to my Facebook page, and the answer is in today’s video.

Helping Shy & Scaredy Cats

We often feel that our fur-kids must have been abused and feel bad to make THEM feel bad. But they still need to know limits. One of my favorite ways to train is using positive rewards. Instead of waiting for kitty to scratch the wrong object and then interrupting the behavior–why not REWARD her when she scratches the RIGHT object?

Using kitty clicker training can also build confidence in shy cats by teaching them what happens is in their paws. Here are more tips for dealing with scared cats.

Cat Neatness Freaks: How & Why Cats Groom

Does your cat groom nonstop? We cherish the cat’s fastidious nature but did you ever wonder why cats groom? Neatnik behavior goes beyond looking good. Did you know in this hot weather, cats also groom to stay cool and prevent heatstroke? 

How and why cats groom impacts physical, emotional, and social health. My Karma-Kat even tries to groom his best friend, Bravo-Dawg. The instinct starts during kittenhood and lasts a lifetime. Of course, some cats get dingy when cats don’t groom, and there are reasons for that as well.

Grooming is a barometer of kitty health. Cats that feel bad often stop grooming, or lick and pull fur out due to stress or pain. Consider an unthrifty appearance or “barbering” themselves bald a kitty cry for vet care. Cats often need help in the grooming department—especially longhair beauties. Here are 5 common reasons why cats groom.

Please Fence Me In: Creating Good Neighbors & Keeping Dogs Safe

Do you have a dog fence? Magical-Dawg used to take off after “critters” every so often, racing around the 13-acre spread (or beyond). We eventually trained him to stay with us, even when off-leash. It would have devastated me if Magic disappeared. He was microchipped, but folks would need to catch him first.

Bravo was a very different dog. He was so good off-leash during most morning rambles and didn’t want to go too far away from us. He’d chase and play with his “big-ball” in the field, and baptize every tree and grass tussock. And once he lost his leg, he couldn’t get out the back fenced area even if he’d wanted to.

 Shadow-Pup, though, takes after Magical-Dawg. He’s so small, not even the fenced back area keeps him contained. He also likes to dig, so we needed to address possible escapes. Refer to this post for more help with digging dogs. Until recently, we had to keep him on a leash anytime we went outside, and that’s no fun for him–or for us. A fence is a dog’s best friend!

Dog Training & Cat Training: How to Clicker Train Pets

People often ask when to start puppy training, and training a kitten or cat training is no different. Pets can learn at any age. January is “Train Your Dog Month” so it’s a great time to revisit clicker training. Clicker training pets offers a great way to teach pets to learn, think, and please you. Pets—and people—will repeat behaviors that reward them and naturally avoid behaviors that offer no benefit. Owners don’t have to be master dog trainers to use this technique, and dogs and cats learn quickly how to behave. You can even trick train cats! Read on to learn how.

Visit Amy's Website

Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

On Demand Writer Coaching

AmyShojai.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com http://amazon.com/.

Awards

Memberships