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Deafness in White Cats

Cvejic, D., T. A. Steinberg, et al. (2009). “Unilateral and bilateral congenital sensorineural deafness in client-owned pure-breed white cats.” J Vet Intern Med 23(2): 392-395.

Congenital deafness in white cats is well known. However, studies of the prevalence among purebred white cats have not been done. This study was performed at the Ludwig Maximilian University, Germany and the University of California, Davis and examined 84 client-owned pure breed white cats for hearing loss (31 British Shorthair, 14 Maine Coon, 11 Turkish Angora, 9 Persian, 6 Foreign White, 6 Norwegian Forest, 4 Highlander, 1 Balinese, 1 Devon Rex, and 1 Oriental Shorthair). Hearing was evaluated using click-evoked brainstem auditory evoked response. Overall, about 20% of the cats had hearing loss in either one, or both ears. In addition, blue-eyed cats were more likely to have hearing loss than cats of other eye colors. While this study does not represent a population cross-section, nor breed evaluation, and prevalence rates were not compared to non-white cats, these findings do support the conclusion that deafness among pure-breed white cats occurs as it does with mixed breed white cats. Neither the mechanism of inheritance nor the genetic basis for the condition is completely understood. [MK]
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Related articles:
Geigy, C. A., S. Heid, et al. (2007). “Does a pleiotropic gene explain deafness and blue irises in white cats?” Vet J 173(3): 548-53.
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Ryugo, D. K., H. B. Cahill, et al. (2003). “Separate forms of pathology in the cochlea of congenitally deaf white cats.” Hear Res 181(1-2): 73-84.
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