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Ask the Doctor December 2019 Issue

Dear Doctor: Bringing a Deaf Cat into your Life

deaf cat

Orhan | Bigstock

Deafness is more common in white cats.

Q. I have fallen in love with a shelter cat that is deaf and would like to adopt it. Should I have any concerns?

Celeste Peakham

Gainesville, Florida

Dear Ms. Peakham,

A. Deafness in cats is not exceedingly uncommon. One study of white purebred cats, in fact, suggests that 20 percent of them are deaf in one or both ears. If the white cat has two blue eyes, the chance for hearing impairment is much higher than the chance for normal hearing.

Whatever color the cat you have in mind, we say go for it. It’s not hard to have a deaf cat if you keep it indoors, which we assume you will. Outside, it wouldn’t be able to hear a predator — or a car — coming.

You just want to avoid startling your pet by never approaching from behind without warning. Before touching your new pet unawares, do something like stomp on the floor so the cat can feel the vibration. Or make a habit of flicking a light off and on quickly as a signal that you’re right there.

Note that you can teach your cat sign language for “food,” “come,” and some other pertinent words.

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