You may wish your cuddly cat to stay your little baby forever, but it's a fact of life that felines, like all other living creatures, do indeed age—even if you can't imagine it. Deafness is a common health problem that many senior cats live with.
Identifying the Problem
When a cat begins to lose her hearing, it typically happens gradually. Some cats experience initial signs of age-related hearing problems at around 10 to 12 years old. Since a cat can't tell you that her hearing is going, it can be hard for owners to realize what is happening. Key signs to look out for include focus issues, confusion, lack of balance, persistent loud vocalization and brief or nonexistent attention span. Also pay attention to your cat's ear positioning. If they are facing forward in the direction of a noise source, your cat's hearing is likely fine and she knows exactly what's going on. And if it seems next to impossible to rouse your pet out of slumber, she probably simply can't hear you.
Just because your pretty kitty happens to be a senior doesn't mean that her deafness can't be related to other medical conditions that may be more serious. To be on the safe side, make an appointment with your cat's veterinarian to confirm the type of deafness. The issue could be linked to anything from injury to ear infections and even some types of cancers. The earlier you are aware of a problem, the more time you'll have to solve it.
Well-cared-for cats can adjust well to deafness, but you can make minor adjustments that will make your pet's daily life easier and more comfortable. As you go about your daily activities around the house, lightly brush her from time to time. That way she'll always know when you're around. If you need to get her attention, try stomping on the floor—she might not hear it, but she'll feel the vibration in the floor. And to be on the safe side, hang a tiny bell on her collar. That way you'll be able to track her down much more easily if she ever gets outside, though it is important to never, ever willingly let a deaf cat outdoors.
Although it may be funny sounding, "presbycusis" is just the technical term for hearing problems that result due to old age—in both humans and felines. The condition is natural, and if your cat has it, it's almost in a way a kind of badge of honor. It just means that your kitty is enjoying a long life! For felines over a certain age, presbycusis is inevitable. Instead of fretting over the hearing loss, simply celebrate your cat's longevity instead.