Feline hearing loss is common, particularly in cats over ten years of age. Healthy cats have excellent hearing, so if you suspect your cat can’t hear noises you can hear, hearing loss is a distinct possibility.
Although most hearing loss is gradual, sudden hearing loss can be caused by serious illness or injury. The latter should always be evaluated by a veterinarian right away in case of an underlying medical concern.
How can you tell whether or not your cat is losing its hearing? Here are a few tell-tale signs to keep an ear out for (sorry.)
1. Unresponsiveness to Everyday Noises
The easiest way to tell your cat can’t hear? They’ll stop responding to every day sounds such as their name being called, you entering the house, or the can opener slicing through their cat food. This is probably the first sign you’ll have that something’s changing for your cat.
2. Decreased Startle Response
Cats are pretty highly attuned to noises, and they have a well-earned reputation for being skittish. If yours no longer jumps when someone claps or hides at the sound of thunder, they may be developing hearing loss. Remember, though, that very loud noises usually make very big vibrations which even deaf cats can feel, so this method isn’t foolproof.
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3. Loud Meowing
If you’ve always had a vocal cat, you may not notice much of a difference. But if your cat begins to meow louder and Louder and LOUDER with each passing month? They may be having a hard time moderating the volume of their voice. They can’t hear themselves, afterall!
4. Increased Sleeping
When cats’ senses begin to dull, they often start sleeping more (and/or more deeply.) This is most common among senior cats. Why does this happen? Because cats who lose their senses are losing stimulation, too, and unstimulated cats get bored and sleepy. Their bodies are also more likely to be slowing down as they age, so more sleep is required to build up the energy needed for day-to-day life.
5. Increased Sensitivity to Smells and Temperature
When a cat loses its hearing, its other senses will usually get stronger to compensate. (They’re like superheroes!) A deaf cat will generally have heightened awareness of things like smells, light, and temperature, unless of course they’re losing all their symptoms in tandem as a result of a serious illness or very advanced age.