The white cats. Some stuffed animals the color of snow that, just looking at us, awakens the instinct of protection. They have very soft fur; so much so that there are those who claim that it is as if you touch cotton. However, it is often thought that all these precious furries are deaf, but what is the truth in that?
In reality, only white cats with blue eyes or of a different color are . We will find the answer by studying their genes.
The W gene, the deafness gene
Cats that inherit this gene will be deaf in most cases. The W gene (which comes from White, white in English), is one of the so-called pleiotropic, which means that it is responsible for enhancing multiple effects. In this case, this is the gene that ensures that the color of his coat is white, his eyes are blue and unfortunately also that he has hearing problems . So much so that as soon as the inner ear is born it is already quite degenerated.
It is important to say that deafness can affect all cats, regardless of the color of their fur, but it is much more frequent in those that present the aforementioned characteristics .
Does it affect all cats equally?
The reality is that it does not, because it acts differently in each animal. The only thing that is certain is that all those cats that inherit this gene will be white, all. This is because it exhibits full penetrance for coat color, but not for eye color or deafness.
Thus, it has been determined that a white cat with blue eyes is 3.5 times more likely to be deaf than a white one but with different colored eyes. And if the white cat has different colored eyes, it will be twice as likely to be deaf as one with two blue eyes.
Are there deaf white cats in nature?
Cats are animals designed to hunt, and for this they need to have their 5 senses, including hearing. If one of them was born with malformations or deafness, what the mother usually does in these cases is not to take care of him. It is very hard for us, but these are the laws of nature, natural selection. In the ‘wild’ environment, one who is deaf would have a hard time surviving .
On the other hand, white cats attract us. Many of us want to live (or we already do) with one of them, so in the hatcheries those healthiest and most beautiful are selected, and they are crossed with others. One of the consequences of this practice is the deafness with which many of them are born.
How to know if my cat is deaf
As we have seen, the W gene does not affect all cats equally, so sometimes we realize that our friend is deaf when he has grown up. However, we can tell that he has hearing problems if we make loud noises near him and he is unfazed . A cat that is not deaf would run away to hide, but if it is, since it cannot hear you, it will remain calm where it is.
In addition, you can tell that he has problems with his inner ear if he meows very loudly because he cannot control the volume of his voice or if he has a tendency to sway when walking. But the almost definitive test will be clapping your hands hard while you sleep . These furry ones love to sleep peacefully, but if we make loud noises near him, like a slap, he will get scared and hide … unless he is deaf, which in this case will continue to sleep peacefully and we will have no choice but to take him to the vet to examine it.
And, what care does a deaf cat require?
A deaf cat is a cat that will need love and attention, like any other. But it is true that it will be necessary to prevent him from going outside, otherwise his life could be in danger by not being able to hear the sound of cars, for example. It is very important that you are always indoors so that you can live happily for many years.
Another issue that must be taken into account is the way we approach it. Cats, in general, address other felines or us from the front making a kind of curve, they never approach from behind (unless they are playing clear 🙂). Well, when we have a deaf cat we must do the same , so living together will be much more pleasant for everyone.
Remember that while he cannot hear you, he has his other 4 senses intact (5, if you think he has a ‘sixth sense’). Take care of him and respect him as if he has no hearing problem – he deserves it. Take time to play with him every day, let him spend time with you, and both of you are sure to be very happy for many, many years.
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