Deafness In White Cats
April 19, 2005 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Genetics of the white cat is a fascinating subject.
posted by debralee (12 comments total)
My wife and I had a deaf, white w/blue eyes cat, Oliver. He was the best cat EVER. I can't explain it but with a deaf cat and four other normal cats, the deaf one ruled the roost. He was also the softest and just... the best.

When we adopted him from the humane society, he had already been in and out of five different homes who found him "too difficult." We have no idea what they were talking about. We trained him just like the others and my wife even trained him with hand signals.

Unfortunately right after we came back from our honeymoon, he developed Feline Hyperestesia and never recovered, though we tried for months and months. It absolutely broke our hearts, but having to keep him doped up on barbituates so that he wouldn't attack himself was no life for him. He got four years of happiness with us before his poor brain just... I don't even know.

None of these sites mention that having a genetic abnormality like deafness may also cause other problems, which I'm surprised about. Still, given the chance I'd take another white deaf cat again in a second.
posted by chuma at 8:07 AM on April 19, 2005

Great post, debralee. Sorry about Oliver, chuma... he looks like such a nice cat.
posted by vorfeed at 8:40 AM on April 19, 2005

Thanks for the post. I looked up some of this stuff a year and a half ago when I adopted Isabel, who's also deaf. It's interesting to me how her deafness affects the noises she makes: her meow is the loudest I've ever heard from a cat, but her purr is very quiet & thin.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:50 AM on April 19, 2005

I wasn't aware of the link between blue-eyed white cats and deafness until my coworker informed me of it the other day. He picked up a new 8-week old kitten on the weekend; it is pure white with pale blue eyes. My coworker isn't sure whether or not the kitten is deaf. He says that the kitten seems to hear noises such as snapping fingers behind it, etc. but doesn't appear to hear when the dog is let in the house, only reacting only when the dog tackles him.
posted by debralee at 9:27 AM on April 19, 2005

Johnny: yes, that was the other thing, deaf cats have no volume control since they can't hear themselves. This made those 3am scraps with the other cats very... well, I probably fell out of bed a few times ;)

Debralee: you know, mine was the same way, very quiet purr but very loud when he wanted to be.

Watching our other cats get used to him when we first got him was a hoot: they would walk right up to him and hiss and meow threateningly, and he'd look at them, cock his head, and usually try to lick their face or nuzzle them.
posted by chuma at 9:53 AM on April 19, 2005

Neither of mine are deaf, but one of them has an ear-splittingly loud meow. When I'm ignoring him, he loves to sneak up behind me and give his loudest meow.
posted by mike3k at 10:40 AM on April 19, 2005

Good excuse to bring out a photo of Lily.
posted by raygirvan at 12:08 PM on April 19, 2005

I had a white cat growing up. Named "Snow" of course. Had the most beautiful green eyes. Best cat ever. Even non catpeople liked her.

good post.
posted by vronsky at 1:41 PM on April 19, 2005

We had a bunch of cats growing up, including Snowy (original, huh?), who was all white, had blue eyes, and was deaf. She could tell it was dinner time when all the other cats heard the can opener and she saw them running, but if she was asleep she would miss dinner. My dad would rev the car in the morning to scare any cats out from under it, and then get out and go looking for Snowy before he drove off. Unfortunately after a few years she met her end when hit by a stranger's car up the street. She was a sweetie.
posted by matildaben at 2:52 PM on April 19, 2005

Great pics, wife and I had two stray grey tiger-striped tabbies...they had a litter of two like them and two black...and we were going to get both of them fixed when all of a sudden the little girl was preggers again...much to our amazement, they again produced two striped, two black, and two white...the father was a huge fellow, about 25 lbs, and not at all fat. Mom was 7 lbs, and she totally ruled the house. The white cats topped out at around 18 lbs each, with the faintest hint of tiger stripes in their faces...and, yes, blue eyes...but if they were deaf, we never noticed.

Damn, they were beautiful cats.

That was ages ago. Have two cats now, a quasi-calico former feral 15-pounder and a stray kitten who is totally black and made it all the way to 7 lbs.

Damn, cats are gorgeous creatures.
posted by 1016 at 4:21 PM on April 19, 2005

My fatass deaf white male cat, Tex, is a fine example of how well a cat can get along without functioning ears. No matter where he is in the house -- and he is certifiably completely deaf -- he will appear at a freshly filled food bowl within 15 seconds.
posted by pmbuko at 9:19 PM on April 19, 2005

We have a largish long-haired white cat with one blue eye and one green eye. It's my understanding that cats with only one blue eye are likely to be deaf in the ear nearest the blue eye, but we've been unable to detect any problems with Toby.

OT: Is the propensity to destroy my furniture a function of genetics?
posted by WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot at 10:31 PM on April 19, 2005

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