Monday, September 23, 2013

Deaf Pet Awareness Week

Each year, the last full week in September is set aside as Deaf Awareness Week. Several organizations such as Petfinder have recently begun to promote deaf pet awareness during this time. This is an important topic for us, so we're reprising our post from last year about it: 

As many of you may already know, our own Maxwell (the handsome cat you see here to the right) came to us completely deaf.

We were actually a bit surprised to learn from Petfinder that some people think deaf pets are less intelligent than hearing animals.

Or that they need some kind of hearing companion to function.

In fact, we've found Maxwell to be the most inquisitive of all our cats. He was the first to discover how to open drawers and cabinet doors (and promptly teach Faraday how to do it too!).

He's always right there when Marty has some kind of home project going on - the more mechanical (or in the image below, electrical!) the better.

As Petfinder says, "deaf pets are just as intelligent as hearing pets. They make great only pets or do well with other animals in the home..."

We could not agree more - and we find it saddening that people might avoid adopting these special animals because of a misconception like this.

(electricity was OFF, and Max
gave out lots of advice!)

We thank Petfinder for bringing the "less adoptable" nature of deaf animals to the forefront this week.

Another thing we'd like to point out is Petfinder's warning: "The only real caveat in adopting a deaf pet is that it should never be allowed to roam freely outdoors unless it is in a securely fenced enclosure, since they cannot hear cars or other dangers approaching."

We can't emphasize this point enough. Maxwell never ever goes out.

And if you need a visual aid as to why, just take a look at how Maxie reacts to the "danger" of an oncoming vacuum cleaner in the video below.

Notice he doesn't react to it at all - until he sees it out of the corner of his eye. Had he been outside, and that been a car - he would not have made it.

Petfinder also debunked the myth that a deaf pet "needs" a hearing companion to function successfully.

"Deaf animals bark, meow, whinny, and make all the regular sounds their hearing counterparts make," Petfinder writes. "They can be taught sign language commands and are fully trainable."

We can attest to that. Maxie functions just fine inside the home, thank you very much!

And he has the very cutest little "meep". True, it's highly unusual sound for such a vocal breed as Siamese. But it's too darned cute!

And yes, they can be taught sign language.

Though we must warn teaching a deaf cat sign language, be prepared for him to ignore you when you say "no" - just like all hearing cats do!


2013 Update: Many of you already know this, but about the time Maxie turned a year old, he had surgery that partially restored his hearing in one ear (the other will never be restored since he has no eardrum in it!).

We're not sure what he hears and what he doesn't. Maxie's other senses are so highly developed that he'll respond to a garage door opener - feeling its vibration - before either other cat responds to its sound. That, incidentally, is one reason it can be so difficult to diagnose a cat as being deaf in a shelter environment!

The one thing we do know is that the hearing is monaural - and because of that, whatever he does pick up, he can't determine where it's coming from.  Just yesterday I saw him look in every direction but the source of my voice when I called to him.

(Yet another reason to keep him inside all the time: if a cat cannot tell the direction of a potential danger, such as a car.)

If you ever do see photos on this blog of Maxwell outside, it's because I happened to have a camera close by when he managed to make a dash for freedom. I assure you, those photos were taken while we're trying to coax him back out from underneath the bushes then escorting him right back inside, pronto!


  1. Thank you for a very informative and interesting post. We did not realise Maxwell was deaf - it just goes to show how clever we felines are at adapting. Äiti has had a blind cat before and she was amazing at coping.
    As for less adoptable - that's just rubbish! Humans being uneducated again. So thank you for trying to change that with this post.

  2. We too did not realise the pawsome Maxwell was deaf. No stopping him though. Clever boy. Have a marvellous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  3. And here comes another one that didn´t realise that Maxwell is deaf :)
    Grreat post about deaf awarness !

  4. We didn't know Maxwell was deaf either!!! We're MOL @ that a deaf cat will ignore like a hearing one does!!

    The Florida Furkids

    pee ess- Raz says he has to wait till his Gotcha Day to get his airplane and that's November 3!!! Looks like we'll all have to wait :(

  5. We didn't know Maxwell is deaf either..BOL, I think Alfie is half the time but he hears the food being open BOL xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  6. We never knew deaf animals were thought of as less intelligent than hearing odd! We think the only challenge to having a deaf animal might be trying to get their attention..especially a deaf dog outside. But efurryone has "selective hearing " at one point or another, don't they?!! :p

    the critters in the cottage xo

  7. Maxwell we think you are purrfect just the way you are and so utterly handsome!!

  8. What a wonderful post today!
    We adore Maxie and have learned a lot from him.
    Kudos to Petfinder for helping people to understand kitties like Max.

  9. Actually, animals (and humans) who are lacking a sense such as hearing or sight, often have their other senses and abilities honed to such a fine level that they can be smarter than their full-faculty counterparts because they can sense things the others can't! Paws up for featuring Maxwell and sharing Deaf Pet Awareness Week!

  10. yeah - great post. we had a deaf foster kitten for a while and he was no different than any other kitten (ok except for not being scared of the vacuum cleaner and not always showing up for dinner when the can opened). we don't get why being deaf equals being dumb. Doc ignored mom just as well as everyone else around here. MOL

  11. Maxwell, you are so smart and very, very handsome! Me-Ommmmmmmm

  12. Like so many of the others, we didn't realize that Maxwell was deaf. The last couple years, Petfinder has promoted the last week of September as less-adoptable pet week, and we were disappointed not to see that again this year on their site.

  13. OH thank God he is inside with you and safe...well loved and cared about and for.

  14. MOL! Allie doesn't look impressed at your door opening prowess.

  15. We're so glad that Petfinder is promoting the fact that deaf kitties are no different than hearing kitties. :)

  16. Iffen ya cant hear, yer other senses get better. They have to.

  17. A fantastic post, thank you so much for sharing!

  18. How sad that people would shun a cat because it is deaf.

    and thinking someone is less smart because they can't hear.. poppycock!

  19. We didn't know there was a deaf pet awareness week. Our white furred, blue-eyed Madison could hear purrfectly well; though, many of these cats are deaf. Mom thinks we are all deaf when she says "no" or invites us to get off the table while she and dad are eating. Typical cats just like Maxwell. We really appreciated you sharing all this info as did our mom. Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth, Calista Jo and Maurico

  20. I had no idea it was deaf pet awareness week, Casper will be miffed that I didn't post about him!!! I find nothing very different about having a deaf cat other than his meow sounds a little peculiar. It saddens me to think that some adopters might be overlooking deaf kitties thinking they are somehow inferior to hearing kitties. Our Casper is the goodwill ambassador, big brother and alpha cat all rolled into one, he is a joy and a delight :-)


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