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Teaching a deaf Kitten?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
So my Kitten, Nemir is officially deaf. He Doesn't respond to anything but movement and floor vibrations and concentrates very hard on something interesting, easily frightened, and is always looking around.

So I was thinking of ways I might go about teaching him. Mainly just gestures and making life easier for him. I do special things with each of my cats. (ie. Pharoh and I do a little "loving headbutt" together and he loves it when I kiss him, that's our thing, like saying "I love you")
So, I was thinking something along the line of hand gestures mixed with hand contact. Hows this: I was thinking I'd make a heart shape with my hand by cupping them together, making sure he sees it, and then slowing moving it toward his head then I separate my hands and run them down his sides to pet him, Hopefully He'll grow to like it and whenever he sees it he'll be prepared and look forward to a pet. Does it sound do-able with him?

I looked around the forums, his behaviours are like most deaf kittens that I've read about. He doesn't like to be picked up right now, He cries alot but It sounds a little different than a regular kitten meow. He's still very young so It's kinda hard to teach him right now and he's not afraid of anything.

So yeah, Any suggestion on other things I could do to make his life easier?
post #2 of 16
Hello! I just posted in your new cats on the block thread. I must say all three of your furkids are gorgeous!

I have 2 deaf cats, Ophelia & Twitch. I have learned a lot from TCS. One member directed me to the American Sign Language Browser. I can't find the link right now, but if you do a google search, you should find it. You could teach Nemir human sign language. I found that with Twitch, it took her a year, but she adjusted perfectly. I got Twitch when she was 7 months old. Now I walk up to her sleeping & put my face on her tummy. She doesn't even open an eye. Ophelia I just got in February, so we are still learning each other. She now tolerates being held(she is 3 years old), but not for long. She screams so loud a lot. You may have a very vocal kitten or a very quiet kitten. Twitch never says much, but Ophelia always has something to say.

Nemir having anothe adult cat to teach him & a kitten brother helps. It is likely he will use his "fur brothers" to learn his way around. I noticed that over time Twitch bonded very strongly with me rather than other cats.

The two hands cupped together might work, all I can say is try it. I know my greeting to Twitch is the "niff niff". I hold out my index finger to her nose for her to sniff. I now do that with Ophelia & scared cats at the shelter where I volunteer. I found it works very well.

You may want to try to establish a "call" for Nemir. I jump up & down on the floor to call Twitch to supper. If she is sleeping near me on the floor, I clang two food dishes together on the floor so she feels the vibrations(stainless steel cat food dishes). Twitch has learned if Lily goes running, chances are it is something to play with or food & then Twitch follows her. Lily is Twitch's ears.

Any other questions I can *try* to answer? That got really long & that's all I can think of off the top of my head, but I'm sure I can come up with more things to tell you.
post #3 of 16
That was me that posted the ASL browser!

I knew I had been talking to Ophie's mommy about all this, but I don't know what the thread was called to search it

Using the browser above, you can look up just about any english word, and a little video will come up to show you the sign.... useful signs can be cookie (treat), food/dinner, no (haha, like the hearing ones even obey that one! but you can try!) up, down, out, nicknames for her toys, bed (if she goes to bed with you like Ollie does with me), etc... just think about what you'd say to her verbally to decide what words to look up... it will take a little time, but cats are quick and will pick up that the sign = the visual/physical action... Oliver's not deaf, but he knows "cookie" and comes running to the cookie stash when he sees the sign

I got into all this because my mom is hard of hearing (she doesnt sign, but hears extremely well with her hearing aids and talks normally) and her sister is almost completely deaf - she signs/reads lips and has a little residual hearing and speaks very well (my mom and grandmother taught her from a young age how to speak normally)... she went to and graduated from Galludate Univeristy, an all-deaf school (in fact some of her friends are in Children of a Lesser God!)... anyhow, she (my Aunt Janette) decided she wanted a cat years ago, but not just any cat, a cat that knew her world... so she found Princess Maple: an all white, blue-eyed, deaf cat.... she got Maple when she was small enough to fit in one of your hands and taught her sign! So Maple knows her signs and also responds to vibrations.... my grandmother's been living with my Aunt Janette and Maple (haha, another long, off-topic story there) and since the move-in has adopted two orange tabby brothers, Nip and Tuck, that are hearing... Maple's doing very well adapting to living with two little ankle-biters too!

Sorry that's so long, but I wanted to give you some info since it sounds like you're new to all this.... feel free to ask anymore questions here or PM me at any time! I think your baby will get used to your greeting too... Ollie knows when I stretch my finger out kinda across in front of his mouth that I want Ollie kisses, so he gives me some (usually)!
post #4 of 16
My Sampson is also deaf. I adopted him from a foster home that socialized him very well. He isn't shy or easily frightened. Sampson doesn't know hand signals but we don't seem to have any problems. He does watch our faces very intently when I'm talking to him.
We did adopt his sister at his foster mom advise because they work as a team. Vanna is Sampson's aide. If he cries she will find him, she will also lead him to the dinner bowl at dinner time. Normally though Sampson doesn't need help at dinner time.
post #5 of 16
Oh btw, to Ophie's mommy, how's the sign language training going?! I know it's been a little while since you decided you were gonna try it, so I'm interested to hear if she's picked up any of it (although I know it can take awhile).... hopefully you can share any experiences, rough spots, etc you've encountered with the training here!

PS: I hope she's maybe beginning to socialize some too! Good luck!
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you guys for your comments! They all really helped! :3

I am a little curious as to how I go about teaching him though, It's very hard to get his attention and to keep it because he's so young and the only thing he really enjoy is food. Right now he's doesn't like to be held very much and he doesn't like pettings too much either, he does like to scratch my hand to pieces though! xD Maybe just whenever I can get his attention I sign him something? Just to get him used to seeing them?
post #7 of 16
I fostered a deaf kitten (about 3 months old) for about a week until my friend adopted him. This is her second deaf cat so she coached me with him while he lived with me.

The first sign she teaches is the "no". It's a simple wag of your index finger left to right when you want him to stop something. Mojo (the kitten) kept jumping up on my china cabinet. I would walk over to him, give him the finger wag and put him on the floor. After about the 6th attempt (and he would look at me after he jumped up), I wagged my finger and he jumped down on his own.

The trick is getting their attention as they can't hear you holler at them. She used a foot stamp and it helps that she has hardwood floors to send out vibrations.

My friend loves to talk about her experiences and I can hook you up with her if you are interested. There is also a deaf cat chat forum available. Also
post #8 of 16
Food/treats are great motivation! That's why "cookie" goes over so well, haha... if you look at the sign for cookie, you can kinda place the treat in the palm of your one hand while making the sign over/around it, I'm pretty sure "cookie" will be picked up quickly, hehe.... same thing with dinner (or breakfast or "food"), make the sign, then fill/set down the food dish.... kitties get the idea pretty quickly and as they grow, you can keep their attention better and the more complicated signs wont be quite so hard to teach
post #9 of 16
Originally Posted by BuzbyJLC10
Oh btw, to Ophie's mommy, how's the sign language training going?! I know it's been a little while since you decided you were gonna try it, so I'm interested to hear if she's picked up any of it (although I know it can take awhile).... hopefully you can share any experiences, rough spots, etc you've encountered with the training here!

PS: I hope she's maybe beginning to socialize some too! Good luck!
I haven't gotten anywhere on the training. She kept attacking my hands instead of learning anything. For now, I've stopped training. She has some other issues we need to work through first. I can't remember what thread that was, either!

I'll do a search of threads Sam(I hope that's your name, isn't it?) & see what else I can come up with. I know i Have asked deafness questions in a couple of threads.
post #10 of 16
Alright Sam. Here's the links I am finding.

Caralabing's Snowball
eupnea's Henri(I belive this is the thread Buzby & I talked about Ophelia?)

Those are all the ones I found. I didn't go back that far, though.
post #11 of 16
Aw, sorry to hear Ophie's sigh training didn't go well, but I know she's got some behavior problems and they should definitely be worked out first... good luck! Keep me updated!
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Alright, Thanks for all the help guys! I'll probably start the "Cookie" and "food" ones now, but since He's still very young and He has a hard time concentrating on one thing I'll probably start other things when He's a bit older, all of the help you guys gave me really helped! Like alot! xD
Thanks guys. :3
post #13 of 16
You're welcome! Definitely keep us updated on the progress!
post #14 of 16
Yeah! Good luck keeping his attention for more than 3 seconds! My Lily is almost a year old & I can't hardly keep her attention at all. She's my little scatterbrain!

Let us know how the traing comes with Nemir. Ophelia acts like a kitten, so if you come up with any ideas or have any tips on how I could keep her attention, please let me know!
post #15 of 16
I had one deaf rex kitten (gold eye white) and I found that to get her attention (she liked sleeping on the floor) I'd just stomp to wake her up. She liked following you around but if she could not see you, she would scream at the top of the stairs until you came in sight, then she'd come running.

When I did call her I'd use the "come here" motion and she caught on quick. I'd reward her with a treat for faster response.

I didn't keep her, but found a very nice couple who owned deaf cats before and were willing to welcome her into their home with no problems. They told me that most people don't know she's deaf cause she's so observing

Takes time and patience to get them to understand and adjust. BTW does your cat meow "off key" or louder then normal?
post #16 of 16
I know you don't want to hear this, but Mojo just turned 2 in March and he is finally getting more focused with his attention. Until that time, they are all kitten - of course Mojo is 19 pounds, so it took him 2 years to grow to full size.

Golden kitty: my friend's first deaf cat did meowl off key and louder than the rest. Her current, Mojo, actually meowls very softly.
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