Owning A Deaf Cat

Cats can become deaf when they are growing older, or some are born with it. It also could have been something medical. But are there any differences in owning a deaf cat? Oh yes, yes there is!

White Cats

Some white cats are born deaf. It doesn’t seem to bother them, that they cannot hear like the other kitties. In return their other senses will grow stronger and compensate with the lack of hearing. From what I heard, you sometimes don’t even notice that your cat is deaf.


Because their other senses become stronger to compensate with the deafness, cats may feel vibrations. It could be you approaching the cat. The steps on the grounds you make are vibrations your cat feels. It makes you question whether your cat is truly deaf of not. Deaf cats are easily startled, especially when they have become deaf not long ago. Stomp your feet on the ground to let them know you’re there.

To Meow Or Not To Meow

Because deaf cats can’t control the sound and volume of their meows, they either meow, or don’t meow at all. A deaf cat might be screaming bloody murder, while he or she is just playing with a toy! It’s important to know what all these sounds mean.

Hand Signals

Because your cat cannot hear you, you can teach your cat to respond to hand signals. With time and a lot patience it is possible to teach a deaf cat to understand those hand signals.

Pointing your finger towards the ground, or another spot may means you want your cat to come to that spot. It will take a lot of time, you may want to repeat it a lot. You create hand signals that means no, or yes, and so on, and it will make communicating between you and your cat so much easier.

Feeding Time

Cats are routine animals. So even a deaf cat will probably know when it’s feeding time again. If you don’t have a routine, or you’re feeding your deaf cat at a time outside your routine (for example treats), your cat might not know this. He may smell it, or has no idea where you are.

Deaf cats won’t hear the can opener, so you may want to bring them to their filled bowl when they don’t realize it’s time to eat.

High Up

Copyright Ian Wilson

Copyright Ian Wilson

Somehow, deaf cats like to sit on high places more than hearing cats. Maybe this is because they can oversee everything from a high place. So maye sure you give your deaf cat enough high places to sit on. Shelfs, scratching posts, you name it! You can easily build something out of scrap wood.

Deaf Cat Behavior

All cats have a different personality. But deaf cats tend to show specific behavior.

More Vocal
Deaf cats will be much louder than cats who can hear.

Deaf cats are often more demanding.

Because they can not hear your coming, cats may be easily startled. Especially when you don’t think about it. Touching him when he’s not looking, or sleeping. Can easily startle him, and make him a nervous kitty.

Helping Your Deaf Cat

Cats will adapt that they can’t hear over time. But there are a few things you can help them with, to make it easier for the both of you.

  • Always approach your cat from the front
  • If severely deaf and living in a busy urban area you may want to confine your cat to a penned area while outside for their safety.
  • It is possible to teach some hand signals for the cat to recognise from afar, these are similar to distance dog hand signals. Yes, you can train your cats.
  • Don’t touch the cat when it’s sleeping or with its back to you.
  • Another way to get a deaf cat’s attention is to flip the lights of a room on and off.
  • Before an owner does something to get a deaf cat’s attention, he or she must consider whether the action will frighten the pet.
  • Never let a deaf cat outside.


Related articles
Cats & Co | Eye Colors & Shapes

16 Responses to “Owning A Deaf Cat”

  1. alienredqueen

    I have heard that before– the fabled blue-eyed, white deaf cat. What is it about being white that makes a cat deaf….is it a paired trait genetically passed down for some reason?

  2. Tom Duhamel

    I had no idea about white cats. The lack of color (in both their hair and eyes) is already a genetic anomaly, which would make the cat an easy target for a predator in nature (unless they live in a perpetual snow area). They are most likely deaf on top of that? No chance we can spot one alive in the wild.

    A cat born deaf would never know about their condition, because no one would be able to let them know cats can usually hear.

    Thanks for sharing, very useful information there, as usual :)

  3. ilovecats

    I did several “interviews” with deaf cats.. lots of useful tips and information here. Thanks for talking about them. :)

      • ilovecats

        It’s odd how most white cats end up deaf. I have a white kitten, he’s not deaf but I did ask his foster mom when I was going to adopt him in case I needed to make him a safe place in the house.

      • Dianda

        It has something do to with their blue eyes. Planning to do a post about that in the future when I have more time to do some good research about it. :) It’s weird, because if they are odd-eyed, and their right eye is blue, their right ear can go deaf.

  4. Denice

    A white cat as the one pictured aboive is not albino, therefore it has pigmentation, though less of it/deterioarting. All/most white cats are not born deaf. There is a higher percantage rate belonging to white cats than of other colours. It has to do with dna and inner-ear deterioarting etc. A genetic mutiation like blue eyes or freckels in humans it is carried from one generation to the next.

    But like many other things that are carried on, it does not mean that it allways comes out in each individual. But one is more sensitive to get it, like for example, diabetes.

    They know little of why the rates are higher with those who have one or two blue eyes(and no, they are not always deaf on the same side as the blue eye) but they have a few theories. There could have been an injury or illness that caused or contributed to deafness.

    If all white cats were born deaf, then there would be no cats breeded for this colour or at cat shows, because it is illegal to breed deaf cats and it is illegal to exhibit them ;) Luckily, otherwise we would have all deaf cats. There are strict regulations to follow when exhibiting or breeding white cats.

    Having said all that, I have found using handsignals for my white odd eyed cat to be of great success. General body language is important with any living beeing but even more so in this case. Making signals with the help og vibrations before approaching is very important if you want a confident cat who is not constantly anxious. My little snowball is very vocal, though so was her family(not deaf)^^ , inquisitive, affectionate and social. About the food, she usually smells it before my not-hearingimpared cat hears/notices it.

    She has learned to compensate so well that with the veterinarians blessing and recommodation, we can let her go outside safely(since we live in a private road with enough distance from the mainroad. She discovers cars arriving before we se or hear them even though she is as deaf as they can get. The veterinarian was absolutely amazed. Before the all-clear, we would allways take her out in a harness. Even though we rearly use it anymore, she will still after having it put on her, run straight to the door, sit there and look up, ready to go out for a walk). She is the one that catches mice and small rats, the other one often catches birds and they both leave them as “gifts”.

    They are both healthy and happy. We have even for their own safety got both of them castrated/sterilized, regularly vaccinated and get regular general check-ups. So no risk of producing deaf/stray kittens or getting seriously injured. They are both happier this way, since our female cat was in heat more often than average in a big way;)

    My deaf cat is the biggest cuddler Ive met. She will come and ask to have a cuddling-session on the sofa or to be picked up. She is also a very strong-willed cat. And we would not have her any other way, though I dont wish any kind of disability on anyone. One has to learn to behave, think, react differantly around deaf cats, even though as you describe that each cat is different. But once you know how and get to know your cat, it is a whole different and less scary world after all =) When one day our cats are no more, we believe that if we were to get a new cat, we would adopt a cat with a disability becaouse it is`t such a scary thing anymore^^

    • Cats & Co

      Hi Denise, thanks for your reply! I changed a bit things in the post. Thanks for the heads up and information! You seem to know a lot about deaf cats and how to go around with them. :)

  5. Terri James

    I recently rescued a young black female cat, and she has an odd, hoarse sounding miaw. I’ve noticed she does not respond to sound at all, and am pretty sure she is totally deaf. Is that unusual, as I have only ever heard of white Cats being deaf?


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