If Your Cat Is Pure White, It Might Also Be Deaf


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By Samme

Not all pure white cats with blue eyes are hearing impaired, but many are. But they are all beautiful. (Facebook/Yaro)

Pure white cats with blue eyes are beautiful and also more likely to be deaf. That’s no reason not to fall in love, but it’s something cat owners need to know to keep their cats safe and healthy. “Hereditary deafness is a major concern in white cats, and even more so if one or both of the irises are blue in color,” according to Cat Watch and the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Deaf cats are happy and healthy, but should be kept indoors. “Even cats that are totally deaf from birth can make perfectly satisfactory companions as long as a few precautions are heeded. Try to keep them out of situations where their safety depends upon their ability to pick up auditory cues. Don’t let them go outside where they can be killed or injured by threats they cannot hear, like from roaming dogs and speeding cars.”

The so called “W” gene confers a beautiful pure white coat and sometimes partial or complete deafness as well. (Picture: Kim Da Jeong)

Here are the facts. Not all white cats with blue eyes are born deaf, but most of them are, according to research collected by the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Research has shown that 65 to 85 percent of pure whit cats with two blue eyes are hearing impaired. That drops to 40 percent if the cat has one blue eye and 17 to 22 percent if the cat is pure white but does not have blue eyes, according to Cat Watch. Deafness is associated with defects in the “auditory apparatus” of the inner ear and can affect one or both ears, according to a report by icatcare.org.


The cause of the deafness is a dominant “W” gene that, when passed on, always produces a white coat and sometimes, but not always, confers partial or total deafness as well. “If a white cat has two blue eyes, it is 3-5 times more likely to be deaf than a cat with two non-blue eyes,” according to icatcare.org. This graphic from icatcare.org shows the prevalence of deaf cats in the total cat population and the percentage of white cats that are deaf, depending upon the variable factor of eye color.

(Graphic Image: icatcare.org.)


A simple, noninvasive test, called a BAER test, can be performed to check a cat for deafness. You can also try clapping or whistling loudly while your cat’s back is turned to see if it reacts. If your cat is deaf or hearing impaired, you should approach the cat so that it can see you and avoid startling it from behind.


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2 thoughts on “If Your Cat Is Pure White, It Might Also Be Deaf”

  1. I’ve had two blue-eyed white cats and both were deaf. They were the happiest, easy-going, laid-back of all the cats I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing my life with. They loved to watch the fireworks and just slept through thunderstorms. Nothing bothered them. We worked out hand signals, but cats communicate telepathically, anyway, so they were just as easy to communicate with as my hearing cats.

  2. Late to the conversation, but I have two twelve week old white, blue-eyed kittens who’s hearing is perfectly fine. Unfortunately, both, and at least one of their siblings (not white), are going to a shelter this week. Apparently, these kittens beat the odds concerning deafness.

  3. Laughton,

    Where did you drop them? I just adopted a female white blue eyed kitten (and she had a identical brother who was adopted before her). From WV and she’s now in MD with me after being transported from a shelter there.

  4. I have a white kitten who will be 1 yr in June. She is white with a spot on her head. She has green eyes. I am just wondering if she will go deaf or blind. If she does I will love her even more. I live her dearly. Just curious about her green eyes and going deaf or blund

  5. We just adopted a lovely blue eyed deaf 6 month old kitten, she is beautiful love her so much.. it doesn’t seem to bother her at all even the vacuum cleaner doesn’t bother her like my other two, who run under the bed when they see it coming

  6. No reason to think she’d go blind or deaf, unless she had some other genetic anomaly that could strike any cat.
    Green eyes and a spot on the head means she has basically normal color genes along with genetics for extensive white markings. The blue eyes and deafness go together as a developmental anomaly, somewhat like albinism in humans. The blue-eyed white kittens are born deaf, just humans with albinism are blind or severely visually impaired-BTW they also have blue eyes.


  8. Roger, what the heck are you doing on this thread? You probably dont even like cats! So scram.

  9. 3 months ago I adopted Stanley. He was 15 months 0ld and is pure white with blue eyes, pink ears, a pink nose and pink paw pads. 3 months after that I adopted Marvin. He was 10 months old and is pure white with blue eyes, pink ears, a pink nose and pink paw pads.

    To the best of my knowledge they are not related. If Stanley wasn’t 33% bigger I would not be able to tell them apart. The statistical gods must have been smiling on me because neither Stanley nor Marvin have any hearing problems.

  10. I have one white cat with blue eyes…..he has two other siblings, of the same color…….white fur, blue eyes, both of them have problems, one deaf, the other blind…..my cat is good with that, but I’m thinking he’s got other issues…..he’s STUBBORN as all get out….is this a common trait? Or just his personality?!? Lolol He is a handful

  11. Its the W gene so most white cats have the w gene so if its a cat thats white withe blue eyes there is almost a 80% chance its deaf.

  12. I had a solid white blue eyed cat that wasn’t deaf. I guess she beat the odds. I unfortunately had to rehome her when I moved somewhere that didn’t allow pets

  13. now,my sweet cat is 15 yrs old….because he is older now, he is happy inside my home and never tries to dart out the door! He has slowed down and is happy to snooze and get a hundred hugs and kisses a day! He still has a lovely loud meow and I love it,makes me know he is still healthy and strong……gotta love these precious special babies Katherine Mackay

  14. I had a white male cat when I was a kid. It had blue eyes and was deaf. Years later, my husband, not knowing the statistics, surprised me with a little white, blue eyed male kitten…and sure enough, little Sammy is also deaf. But he is adorable with a big meow and great personality. Already madly in love with him. So glad to add him to our family.

  15. I have a kitten that was born pure white with 2 blue eyes, but he’s 8 months old now and his fur is patched with a little tan, but his eyes have stayed the same. Should I be looking out for anything?

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