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What are Hearing Loss?

Deafness can be the result of illness, a neurological abnormality or a defect or abnormality in the physical makeup of the cat’s ear. If the cat is aging, its hearing loss may be actually a combination of nerve damage and the gradual fusing together of the tiny bones in the cat’s inner ear. The cat may lose hearing in only one ear or in both, depending upon the causes of the loss. White-haired cats with two blue eyes are much more likely to be deaf than cats with other fur and eye colors.

The cat who is experiencing hearing loss literally cannot hear sounds in its environment. Normally, cats have highly acute hearing and can detect sounds that the ordinary human ear isn’t capable of picking up. 

Hearing Loss Average Cost

From 300 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Cats

Hearing loss in a cat may be gradual, making it difficult for its owner to detect symptoms of the growing deafness. Once the cat’s owner can detect the signs that something is wrong with the cat, they may notice the following:

  • Cat’s meow is much louder than normal
  • Cat doesn’t respond to normal environmental sounds
  • Cat seems to ignore its name or being called
  • Cat responds to humans or stimuli only when they are in sight
  • Sleeps more than normal
  • Turns away from owner when it is called
  • Doesn’t wake in response to loud sounds or conversations
  • Startles easily

Symptoms of hearing loss from illness:

  • Bad odor from the cat’s ears
  • Pus coming from the cat’s ears
  • Appears dizzy or disoriented
  • Tips of the ears become scaly or pink
  • Pawing at the ears
  • Shaking the head
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Causes of Hearing Loss in Cats

The causes of deafness in cats vary widely:

Medical

  • Illness, such as ear infection (otitis externa, which can travel to the inner ear)
  • Ear mites
  • Polyps
  • Cancerous growths in the ear canal
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Excessive ear wax in the cat’s ears

Genetic

  • Cats born with two blue eyes and white fur are much more likely to be deaf
  • Atresia,a defect in the ear canal’s development

Environmental

  • Exposure to household chemicals
  • Taking diuretic medications or some antibiotics

Age

  • The cat’s eardrum thickens as a cat gets older
  • Fused bones in the inner ear
  • Nerve damage
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Diagnosis of Hearing Loss in Cats

The vet discusses the cat’s symptoms of apparent hearing loss with the owner, then performs a full physical. The vet will test the cat’s responses to sound, noticing whether the cat turns or lifts its head.

The cat undergoes a complete otic exam (exam of the ears) and a full neurological workup. As the vet is on this part of the exam, they will look for any foreign bodies lodged in the cat’s ear, wax accumulation, inflammation, or signs of infection.

Depending on how the cat responds to other tests, the vet may decide to carry out other diagnostic testing.

If the cat is older and the vet suspects an age-related hearing loss, they will conduct the BAER test. This is the brainstem auditory evoked response test, which detects electrical activity in the cat’s cochlea and its auditory pathways. Small foam earphones are put into the cat’s ears and electrodes are placed between its shoulders, under the the fur on its scalp, one at the top of the head and the last two are placed in front of each ear. The cat’s ears are tested individually and the entire test takes up to fifteen minutes. 

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Treatment of Hearing Loss in Cats

The treatment method used will depend on the cause of the cat’s hearing loss. If the cat has an ear infection, antibiotic treatment may help the cat to recover its hearing. If the cat has an over-accumulation of wax in its ears, this can be carefully and gently removed from the cat’s ears, although the cat may need to be sedated for this procedure.

If a tumor or growth is obstructing the cat’s ear, removing this tumor surgically may help the cat regain some of its lost hearing.

If the cause of the cat’s deafness is the result of damage to the inner ear (sensorineural), this cannot be treated or reversed. The cat can be fitted for hearing aids, but it may not tolerate having a foreign object placed into its ears.

Genetic and age-related hearing loss cannot be reversed. Instead, the cat will need to learn to cope with its hearing loss. 

Any medications the cat took that may have contributed to its hearing loss will need to be discontinued and replaced with another medication.

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Recovery of Hearing Loss in Cats

A cat that has lost its hearing can still have a happy, fulfilling life. The cat may need to be limited to staying indoors, and its owners should make sure the cat sees them as they are approaching.

Cats can learn hand signals and how to translate vibration signals as well. If possible, remove carpeting from the house so vibrations can travel along the hard floors to the cat.  A tiny bell can be slipped onto the cat’s collar so its owners can easily locate it. A tag that says, “I am deaf” can also be added to the cat’s collar so that, if it gets outside the house, anyone who finds it can adjust how they communicate with the cat.

Signaling the cat silently with a light can be used to communicate that it is time for a meal. Because they are such sensual creatures, cats love gentle touch. Use touch to communicate to the cat and reinforce new signals.

Sleeping cats should be gently awoken with a soft touch. The cat can also compensate by “hearing” its owner’s voice through touch. If the owner places their hand on the cat’s back, the cat will feel the vibrations of the owner’s voice. 

Female cats suffering from genetic deafness should be spayed. They should not be allowed to become pregnant and pass the genetic condition onto their kittens, which they won’t be able to hear. Also, because the deaf cat can’t hear itself meow, she will be more easily heard by tom cats wanting to mate.

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Hearing Loss Average Cost

From 300 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Hearing Loss Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Missy

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tabby

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Staring, Jumpiness

3 year old tabby who was feral. Now indoor/outdoor. She is deaf and has a startle reflex. About a week ago she started acting like she couldn't see in front of her. She sits and stares under the dishwasher.she has gone missing and has been gone 29 hours. She has never done this. Could D she have a tummor causing sosomndness? She also won't sleep on my bed on her blanket. Help??

Aug. 12, 2018

Missy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

If Missy is deaf and having issues with vision, she should be made an inside only cat as being deaf she wouldn’t have full sensory awareness of her surroundings and would be more at risk of attack from dogs or wild animals. There is nothing specific I can say without examining her and would recommend that you take her into your Veterinarian for an examination once she is found. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 12, 2018

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Dolly

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mixed

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7 Weeks

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sleeps A Lot

Hi, the other day my cat hit her head on the front door as I was closing it. I didnt see her until after it happened. She was hurt for a couple of days but was fine after she slept it off. Then this morning she started meowing very loud and didnt hear me calling her. I just clapped while she was napping but no response at all. Can this be fixed? I will do anything to repair this! So worried.

June 5, 2018

Dolly's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Head trauma may present in different ways including delayed onset of some symptoms which is why it is always important to visit your Veterinarian for an examination immediately; without examining Dolly I cannot determine the severity of the head trauma or whether or not treatment may or may not be effective. You should visit your Veterinarian for a thorough examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 6, 2018

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Buddy

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Shorthair

dog-age-icon

17 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Loud Meow

My cat had mites at one point when we were living in Costa Rica. Drops were given, and I assumed he was ok. He then started having itchy ears, and now I think he is deaf, but I don't know if it was from the mites (he never had a smell or discharge) and I didn't treat him long enough or if it is age related (he's about 17). If I give him drops for mites at this stage, can they reverse deafness if that was the cause?

April 29, 2018

Buddy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It is difficult to say whether the deafness is related to mites or not, if there were mites you would notice clear symptoms other than deafness of their presence. In a cat Buddy’s age, there are many different causes of deafness which may include age related issues; whilst giving treatment for ear mites wouldn’t necessarily cause any harm I doubt it would restore hearing. You should visit a Veterinarian for an examination to see if they are able to determine a cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 29, 2018

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Carrie

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domestic short hair

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14 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

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Can'T Hear Well

I've noticed that my cat has become very deaf. Before this happened she was diagnosed with a thyroid problem and a heart problem. I've been given her Methimazole about 100 mg twice a day. Because she won't take a pill it is in a cream form and it put in the inside of the ear (not on the fur but hopefully on the skin). But now I've notice she barely hears me and I have to almost yell at her to get her to notice me only a few inches away. Does the meds cause this or the thyroid condition?

March 6, 2018

Carrie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are a few causes of hearing loss in cats especially as they age, I have no specific information from a reputable source regarding hearing loss after the use of methimazole transdermal gel, however there are some report online about it. You should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to determine whether the cause is due to the gel or another cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 6, 2018

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Snow

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Turkish Angora

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4 Months

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Deafness

Hi I’ve just adopted a 3-4 months old white female Turkish angora with amber eyes. I’m convinced she was deaf as no reaction to any sound not even when sleeping. but then very strangely she woke up from a nap and was immediately hysterical as if she heard every sound and was reacting to it by hiding and acting on edge. Then a few hours later she calmed down and appears not to be able to hear again and very playful. Then the jumpiness started again all of a sudden and it appears she could hear all the sound around her and was frightened of them. She has been checked recently by the vet and said ears are all clear although there is quite a bit of wax on the outer ears. I’m not sure what is happening here and what to do about it?

March 4, 2018

Snow's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

Without examining Snow I cannot say what the specific cause of the hearing loss is but intermittent hearing is uncommon; if there is a build up of wax you should ensure that the ears are kept clear regardless and you should also visit a Neurologist for another opinion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 4, 2018

Thank you!

March 4, 2018

Snow's Owner

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Enzo

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Turkish Angora

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9 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Hearing Loss

Hello guys, My kitten in just 9 Months old and he is having hearing loss because of ear mites I think... When he was born he had a bad eye infection (He is an inbreeded kitten, His and His mother's father is same) Please tell me if his ear mites are treated he will be able to listen again clearly? (sorry for my English)

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Phoebe

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Shorthair

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Ear Itching
Loss Of Balance
Loss Of Hearing

My cat has been scratching her ears a lot for the last few weeks. I looked inside and they were all black inside. I took her to the vets who said she had a bar yeast ear infection. The vet syringed and cleaned them out. Lots of black gunk came out of both. After the procedure she seemed fine she came home and had her prescribed ear drops. This morning she was not herself. Very unbalanced and loss of hearing. I took her back to the vet who gave her a an anti Sickness shot for the loss of balance, a steroid shot for her inflamed ears and cleaned them again (more stuff came out of her ears). She’s still not responding to sound I’m so worried her hearing has been lost during the cleaning procedure or from the drops. Please can you advise?

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Atlanta

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Gray Russian

dog-age-icon

21 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hearing Loss

My cat Atlanta is 21yrs old..I noticed about 2yrs ago that she couldn't hear when I dropped cooking pots on the floor by accident and she didn't flinch at the noise..her deafness is age related add unfortunately there is nothing the vet can do..I feel so sad that she can no longer hear my voice..I've had her since she was 6wks old and I'm very partial to her.

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Misha

dog-breed-icon

Calico

dog-age-icon

1 Month

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Dizziness, Head Shake, Deaf

I found a calico kitten on the street. She didn't seem older than 4 weeks. I took her to the vet and he said she was fine but after she gains some weight to come back in 2 weeks for some pills so she doesn't have parasites. After 2 weeks I took her to the vet, she had gained weight (not excessive) but she had one big problem, she was very dizzy could barely stand. The vet put her on some IV drops saying that most likely she needs to be hydrated. After 2 days at the vet with IV she seems better. after a month she still has equilibrium problems, her head shakes and (this is my fault) i did not notice if she was deaf from the start or if she had something else happen to her when her 1st dizziness started. She never had a foul smell in her ear and were always clean.

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Wally

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dsh

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Slight Hearing Issues
Large Amount Of Wax Discharge

I took in a feral kitten who was underdeveloped. Full of parasites, (fleas and worms) my vet said he was about 2-2.5 months old and half the size he should be. He's had wax (and it was tested to be sure, it is just wax) coming out of one ear since in my care. He also seems to not hear as well from that ear (understandable) but the vet didn't find any infection or mites or any reason why he's having the wax discharge, so I was wondering if you'd think it was related to his development issues? Or maybe he had an illness while still outside (his mom has a respiratory cold) and although he's ok now, it could have damaged his ear? I clean it out gently every other day, it's not as much (amount) as it was a couple weeks ago but still a thing. (He's normal otherwise, plays fine eats and drinks and potty's normal)

Hearing Loss Average Cost

From 300 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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