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How do I explain to my cat that his new cat companion is deaf?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I just recently adopted a deaf cat. To my surprise, she vocalizes like any normal cat, but sometimes her vocalizations are exaggerated. She'll sound upset when she's really just saying hello; that sort of thing. As such, my first cat is nervous around her.

The first week, she would hiss and snarl at my first cat if he so much as glanced at her. Then after she got acclimated, she was okay with him unless he got too close. Now she hisses or snarls only if they bump into each other. They're both adult cats. She doesn't seem to care about being the dominant one. She just doesn't like him.

It's only been one week though, so hopefully they will eventually be fine with each other. I feel bad though because my male doesn't need to be so afraid of her. Sometimes she'll meow loudly in her sleep and send my boy running off. Half the time when she's vocalizing in a mean tone, it's not directed at him or meant to be mean, but he still perceives it as a warning.

I feel bad watching him meow at her questioningly when she doesn't even know he's there. Actually, he meows at her a lot but she doesn't know if she's not looking at him.

I wish I could "explain" to him the situation. Will he eventually figure it out, or is he always going to think she's a meanie?

I adopted her to be his companion. He seemed happy at first to have a new cat, but now he's distraught that she doesn't like him. He'll go do wail his "Why don't you like me?" song, which I'm guessing is for her.
post #2 of 8
i've never had a deaf cat... but i think he will probably figure it out. it's only been a week, right? even hearing cats can take longer than that to become friends [if they ever do!]. sending understanding for your boy!

btw - what are their names?
post #3 of 8
Sit down and have a talk with him, and repeat it several times over the course of the next week or so, explaining the situation and why she acts the way she does.

It really should help.

Also, try using some Feliway as it calms down anxious cats. That, or Bach's Rescue Remedy.

Lastly, try rubbing some pure vanilla extract into the fur on the back of the neck of each of them.

They'll get there, it just takes time and patience and understanding - which it sounds like you have.
post #4 of 8
My best friend has 4 cats, one of them is deaf. They have been together for 4 years and Mojo (the deaf cat) was the last adopted. Mojo really confused the other cats for a long time. Deaf cats simply don't respond as a normal cat and it can be confusing.

Mojo has a normal meowl, but also a very menacing fight-strength meowl that he uses when he doesn't like something. He learned the bad meowl when he saw the other cats back away when he used it. He doesn't realize what he's doing with this meowl cause he can't hear himself, and my friend has had to discipline him when he uses it inappropriately. Her signal for "no" is a finger waggle left to right (yes, you will learn sign language for your baby).

Let me see if I can get her on this thread to help out.
post #5 of 8
Hi Xelda... I have had two deaf cats, Cumulus (rest in peace, my old friend) and Mojo, who is with us now. The fact that you've only had your two together for a week screams volumes to me... and please be patient, it will take time. First things first, I can really babble on this, so feel free to contact me directly and I'll do my best to help keep you all learning. Second, start working on some sign language with your girl. You'll be able to get about 8'ish really clear signs that she will understand. "No" might have to be the first sign... but right up there with it you'll have to teach her what her name is... and that usually looks something like waving backwards (like little kids do when they're learning to wave)... Anyway, in Mojo's world, that means I'm calling him when I wave at him from across the room. (Like all other cats, he DOES have selective "hearing".) One of the hardest things to learn for all of you is that whatever you do for her, you'll on some level have to do for your boy. I mean... you'll be touching her more, as that is how she'll feel your presence, so don't let him get jealous. As he doesn't understand her lack of hearing, he won't understand you touching her more than him. AND when you talk to him, be sure to use her name and talk to her too when in your boy's presence (which is always). B'cuz you'll have to talk to her differently, you'll have to talk to him differently too. They will both see this happening, and in time start to understand. Around here, I'm not sure that my 3 hearing boys really "get" that Mojo doesn't hear, they just know that he is different. He yells differently, he demands attention differently, and he postures differently. Your boy WILL get used to that, but you can help in that process. SooOooOoOooooo.... start by finding a way to say no (you'll also need a hell-no signal... around here that is when we move from finger waggle to a little doink on the nose) and also a way to call her. Pet her a lot, pet your boy a lot in the same manner. When she wails, touch her AND/OR touch your boy so he knows it's not a freak-out type situation. I'm sure you're a little jumpy, too, right now... which will make your boy a bit jumpy, as well. My hubby just walked in and asked me to remind you of two things 1. don't get discouraged! We are very satisfied and get a lot of fulfillment with Mojo in our family. And 2. Start tapping on the floor when she's looking another direction. She'll start to feel the vibration and begin to learn to look around... your boy will learn that, too and it may help him understand that she responds differently. In the end, you will get so much satisfaction from her, more than you ever expected! Trust me on that one! ((catsm00ches)) from Colorado! Hope this all helps! And I'm happy to help more, if I can.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Wow, thank you everybody for your support! I'm in love with these forums already.

My deaf cat's name is Luna, and my first cat's name is Donut. They're both white domestic short-hairs. I was on the look-out for compatible traits when I adopted Luna, so they still have a lot in common. They both come from humble origins, both are obedient and very affectionate with me. Donut likes to massage my arm when we cuddle in bed, and Luna head-butts a lot. I hope some of their affection will spread to each other.

I already ordered some Feliway. I appreciate the advice on teaching them both how to read my cues. I try to assure Donut of his place here. For the timebeing, I keep my bedroom off-limits to Luna, and he seems to appreciate that. She has her own room too. I've noticed that Luna's reaction to Donut is heavily influenced by my presence, so it's just a matter of playing my cards right. Hopefully I won't mess up!

This is a picure I took a few days ago. It's the closest I can get them without either one flipping out, and believe me, when he got a little closer to sniff her, it broke the moment. Luna is the one sleeping.

post #7 of 8
That's actually really great for cats who have only known each other a week. To be relaxing that close to each other is huge. It shows some acceptance and trust... they just need to work out the kinks.

When the hearing cat is meowing at the deaf one and the deaf one isn't turning her head around, I agree that it might be a good idea to tap lightly on the ground so she turns and sees him... just to help the communication along at first.
post #8 of 8
About a year ago I introduced a deaf cat into a household with 4 hearing cats. I kept him in our basement for a couple of days by himself, I believe, so he could tell that I was his friend and he would trust me.

When I brought him upstairs, the most interesting thing is that the other cats sniffed his ears! Maybe they always sniff each others' ears, but I thought that was interesting.

Clyde really fit into the group dynamic pretty well - but it's probably harder to introduce a cat into a household of one than four. From your explanation, it all sounds pretty normal to me.

(I also agree also with Gingersmom about talking to your first kitty and actually explaining the situation, and at the same time, make pictures in your head as well. I don't know why, but that often does seem to work with animals.)
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