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Cher
Cher, Feline Specialist
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 21066
Experience:  Feline Healthcare & Behavior Specialist 40+ years Experience
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I just got a cat from a shelter and suspect she is deaf. She

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I just got a cat from a shelter and suspect she is deaf. She is white with yellow eyes and is not reacting normally. But I also notice she is twitching, shaking her head and ears, and licking. The muscles in her back also twitch. She seems to get very irritated from this and usually ends up jumping up and zipping across the room, like she is trying to get away from something. Any ideas?
Hello, and welcome back to Just Answer.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX it will be my pleasure to assist you and KittyB today.

Congratulations on your new, furry addition!

From your description, it is possible that she is deaf, as many white cats are, but the symptoms you describe with her shaking her head and scratching frequently, may indicate ear mites or an inner ear infection. To check for ear mite debris, look for a brownish/black substance that resembles coffee grounds, in her ears. If you haven't already done so, stand behind her and clap your hands to see if she turns around or reacts. Sometimes the vibrations of hand-clapping or other tests may make her seem to hear the sound but she's just feeling the vibrations.

The other symptoms you describe sound like she may have developed feline hyperesthesia, a neurological condition which causes the skin on the back to 'crawl' (ripple), and the cat to take off running suddenly, as you described, plus, the skin rippling does make the back feel super-sensitive. Here is more information: Hyperesthesia

It would be advisable to have KittyB evaluated in person by a vet as soon as possible, so you can get a definite diagnosis for the symptoms you have observed. Treatment will be prescribed, if needed, and to help her feel more comfortable.

I hope all will be well with your furry girl!

If you need any additional information or clarification, simply 'Reply' back without rating and I will be happy to help with any follow up questions. Please do not rate negatively if you still need information. Just click "Reply" instead. Thank you!

If you found my answer helpful, a Positive Rating and Positive feedback on the survey, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Laughing

If you would like to request me to answer any new, future questions, please begin your post with "For Cher Only" and I will respond as soon as possible.

Warmest regards,

Cher

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Her ears look clear and I have tried to startle her by making loud noises from behind with no response. The symptoms of hyperesthia seem right, but maybe not to that extreme. Are there mild cases of this syndrome? her back muscles do ripple when she is going through this, her ears twitch, she licks her back or front legs and then just takes off. Like she is very irritated. She also licks like she has something stuck to her tongue. I'm going to try to get her to the vets tomorrow to confirm the hearing and this syndrome if possible. Thanks.

Hi again, and you're most welcome.

It's my pleasure to be of help to you and KittyB!

I'm glad her ears look clear! If you've tried to startle her by making loud noises from behind and she doesn't react, it does sound like she may be deaf or perhaps partially deaf. The vet will conduct the same kind of tests in the office to check her hearing.

I'm glad you're planning a vet visit for tomorrow to check on her overall health and the suspected conditions. Some cases of hyperesthesia can be worse than others, but it does sound as if she has the classic symptoms. Most cats will try to lick or bite at their backs and/or tails also, but licking the back or front legs can be part of it too. Also, make sure she doesn't have any external parasites like fleas or mites, causing itching. If she licks like she has something stuck to her tongue, she may be licking very hard, but do mention this to the vet so he can check her tongue and total oral health of her teeth and gums, as well.

I hope all will be well and she will receive treatment to lessen her symptoms which are bothersome. I'll check back with you in a few days to see how she's doing and what the vet's findings were.

If you need any additional information or clarification, simply 'Reply' back without rating and I will be happy to help with any follow up questions. Please do not rate negatively if you still need information. Just click "Reply" instead. Thank you!

If you found my answer helpful, a Positive Rating and Positive feedback on the survey, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Laughing

If you would like to request me to answer any new, future questions, please begin your post with "For Cher Only" and I will respond as soon as possible.

Warmest regards,

Cher

Cher and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Hi again, I'm just following up with you to see how everything is going with KittyB. What did the vet tell you when she was seen?If you need any additional information or have further concerns, please don't hesitate to ask me by clicking on 'Reply to Expert', and I will answer as soon as possible.I appreciate the opportunity to be of help to you and your furry girl, and thank you for entrusting your question to Just Answer!Best wishes,Cher
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi thanks for checking up. KittyB is deaf, due to the genetic malformation associated with the gene connected to fur color. She also does have that hyperesthia, a mild case that presented itself during the time she was being introduced to a new environment (stress related). She has since calmed down, is playing and eating, but still seems very clingy and won't let me out of her sight. The incidences are showing themselves less frequently now, maybe once or twice a day and they are very mild. I am not too concerned about it. I did notice early on that she was attacking her tail, but hasn't presented with that particular symptom since then. So I think we are going to be ok. Thanks.

Hi again, Danielle, and you're most welcome.

Thanks so much for your update, on KittyB after seeing the vet.

Deaf cats can live long, fruitful lives, so as long as she's healthy in all other ways, that's fine. The hyperesthesia can present at times of stress, and what might help is a cat calming pheromone called Feliway. It comes both in a spray and a plug in diffuser, which resembles a plug in air freshener, but has no scent to humans. You can findi it in your pet supply stores or order online. Here is more information: Feliway

She's very young, she is adapting to her new home, and she might even grow out of it, as her stress lessens. She sounds like an affectionate cutie and she's lucky to have you for a cat-parent!

I hope all will continue along well for KittyB!

Warmest wishes to you both,
Cher