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Any tips for taking care of a deaf kitty ?

Hello to Jasmine and everyone who reads this,

My name is natacha and I have a question about my kitty. She is a completely white Turkish shorthair (Anatolian). She is 6 months and a half old now. The sad thing is that she is deaf. When I just found out I was heartbroken. I managed to get over that a little cause I see she is still very happy and playful. I would like to know if anyone has any tips for dealing with a deaf kitty. I want to make things as comfortable for her as I can. It's also hard to make her stop doing things she is not allowed to do, like hanging in the curtains :)! I also have to be very carefull I don't scare her when she can't see me coming. If anybody can help me out with some information? Thanks a lot, I appreciate it very much !

Thanks again,

Natacha

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Re: Any tips for taking care of a deaf kitty ?

Hi Natacha,

Although your kitten was born deaf I believe she's found the right home. It's wonderful for her as you care so much and will make her life a better one.

A deaf kitten requires unique attention much as a deaf person's special needs must be considered. When training a kitten the words "No" and "Down" often become a standard training response. You will have to train her using physical gestures and making sure she is looking directing at you. "No" for example can be substituted with a gentle touch on the noise and a shaking of your head. The word "Down" should be used with a physical pointing to the floor and gentle removal of your kitten if she has climbed onto an inappropriate or dangerous surface within your home. Hanging on the curtains is common with kittens and this will eventually cease as she gains body weight, you can also trim her nails to assist in discouraging her climbing.

As for frightening her with a sudden appearance I would carry a small pocket flashlight with me. When you are aware that she is in a room flash it across the floor by turning it off and on. She will initially be stimulated by the sight but eventually learn it is the signal that her mother has entered the room. If you are near a light switch again turning the light off and on will warn her that someone is in the room. She may prefer and will readily respond to vibrations therefore a strong tapping of your foot on a floor could be adequate notice to prevent a fearful response.

I would discourage any outdoor activities preventing contact with dogs, traffic or small children. I would encourage your family and friends to gently interact with her as if she was a normal cat. I believe your kitten is already adapting to her hearing loss and learning far more then the average cat. Please keep in touch. Your observations will provide other cat lovers with additional techniques in coping with a special needs kitty. Every cat responds to love and affection. As a caring person you are assisting her in leading a more comfortable life despite her hearing disability.

Take care,
Jasmine Kinnear
Feline Behaviour Consultant

Re: Any tips for taking care of a deaf kitty ?

Hello Jasmine,

Thank you very much for the advice. I'm going to try using more physical gestures when training her. When I get home or come into a room where she is, I try to use the light switch or tap on something and she responds to that very well. When it's time for her to eat I lift up her bowl and show it to her, then she jumps, miauws and comes running straight towards me, it's so cute! Well she doesn't really miauw most of the time, she just peeps, that's why her name is Peeps. I don't know if it's because she's deaf that she mostly just peeps. when I get home I get a miauw once and a while, and oh boy she can purr!

The flashlight is a very good idea, I definitely have to try that. Everybody is very gentle with her and she adapts very well, she's very loving and adapts to everybody really fast.

A few moths ago she got to know my parents dog. I was a little scared she would be scared of him, since he's a Jack Russel! Although he's a doggy with a lot of energy, he's very loving too. They got along instantly. It was such a big surprise. They would sleep together and even play! It was so funny to actually see them play together. I think she wasn't scared of him cause she couldn't hear him bark.

I'll definitely will never let her go outside, she loves it though, when I take her with me in her carrier she loves to put her nose up in the air and she loves sitting in the sun. But she'll have to be a home kitty.

One more question, she has a cat gym with all different levels and she loves to play and jump on it, but her balance doesn't seem to be very good, sometimes she really falls off. Does that have anything to do with the fact she's deaf? balance is also a part of the ears no? Sometimes she seems a bit clumsy.

I'm going to try your tips and I'll keep you updated on how things go. Thank you again for answering and the good tips, I appreciate it!

Thank you and take care,

Natacha

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