Health

December 2008 Issue

Feline Ear Disorders

A wide range of afflictions can cause discomfort; some may even lead to deafness. Here's how to protect your cat.

Among a normal, healthy, and properly cared-for cat’s many distinctive attributes is its astoundingly acute sense of hearing. While the human auditory system is capable of detecting sounds ranging in frequency up to about 20,000 vibrations per second, cats typically can sense sounds pulsating at 60,000 vibrations per second or greater. This impressive acoustic sensitivity has been honed over the ages to serve a cat in countless ways — signaling the stealthy approach of a dangerous predator, for example, or detecting the underground movement of a burrowing rodent. Although most cats will go through life without experiencing a serious problem with their ears, owners should know that a variety of conditions — including congenital defects, infections, trauma and age-related changes — can be extremely painful and may compromise an animal’s hearing. Most feline ear disorders are readily treatable and will not result in permanent hearing loss, notes James Flanders, DVM, an associate professor of surgery at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. However, some conditions may render a cat partially or totally deaf, especially if they remain unrecognized and untreated.

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