Recently I’ve come to the conclusion that my oldest cat, Tina, has gone deaf.
Over the past year or so, I’d noticed some behavioral changes that puzzled me. She wouldn’t come running when I put out fresh food. She’s pretty old, so I thought that was understandable. But there were other signs too. Her meow seemed to be getting louder. She would walk with me towards the kitchen, but she would stop every few paces to see if I were coming along with her – something she never used to do. She’d seem startled when people came up to her.
And one day it dawned on me – could she be having trouble hearing? I finally decided to do some basic tests. Each time, I would clap loudly and watch to see if she turns her head or otherwise notices the sound. She doesn’t. I’m not sure if she’s completely deaf or just mostly deaf, but taken all in all, it seems quite obvious that her hearing is seriously impacted.
Tina is 17 – very old for a cat. I know that there are a lot worse things that could happen to her than deafness. I know that she’s not in any pain and that cats tolerate disabilities much better than humans do. And she’s an indoor-only cat, so it’s not like she’s going to get outside and not hear a car coming. Still – I often talk to her when she’s cuddled up on my lap; I tell her what a good girl she is and how much I love her. I know she doesn’t understand the words but she understands the tone of voice. Now she can’t hear that, and it’s sad.