We love our cats for their independence and strong opinions, but there are times we wish they would come when they’re called. 

Unlike dogs, who thrive off of human interaction, cats prefer to socialize on their own terms. This could be because cats essentially domesticated themselves, finding hunting to be easier the closer they came to human settlements. 

But if you’re wondering why your cat is ignoring you, or if they can hear you at all, here’s how to tell if your cat is hard of hearing. And if not, why they might be giving you the cold shoulder.

Is My Cat Deaf or Hard of Hearing? 

Unless your cat is growing old or has had some sort of head trauma, the odds are less than 10% that your cat is deaf or hard of hearing. Cats have exceptional hearing, and it is all because of the shape of their ears. 

The conical shape of a cat’s ears allows them to pick up and amplify the sound waves around them by two or three times. Their ears are also capable of rotating 180 degrees, thanks to the 32 muscles in their ears. These muscles make it easy for them to pinpoint where a sound is coming from. 

What Causes Hearing Loss in Cats?

  • Genetics: Only about 10% of cats are genetically deaf. According to studies, deafness most often affects white cats with blue eyes. 
  • Aging: Cats that are getting older may lose their hearing due to a thickening of the eardrum, fusion of the bones in the inner ear, or nerve damage. 
  • Trauma: Cats can damage their eardrums in several ways; fighting with other cats, frequent infections, or tumors could all cause hearing loss.

To check for hearing loss, stand behind your cat and make an unexpected sound with your mouth—either a hiss or a popping sound. If they turn to look they are hearing you just fine. We do not recommend clapping your hands or stomping your foot to make a noise, as some deaf cats pick up on those vibrations. 

Top 5 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Ignoring You 

1: They need some space.

Cats evolved from a solitary species. So unlike their canine counterparts, they often enjoy spending time alone. That is not to say they do not enjoy a good cuddle or some interactive playtime, but make sure you are giving them space if they ask for it. 

2: They’ve been scared.

While cats are exceptional hunters, the term “scaredy cat” applies as well. New spaces, a loud noise, a shadow on the wall—all of these things and more could be scaring your cat.

3: They’ve been slighted.

We know you didn’t mean to feed them the food they didn’t like, or step on their tail, or forget to scoop this morning, but they feel like you did. Give it a day, and maybe a treat, to ease the hurt feelings. 

4: They are stressed.

Cats get stressed easily—they are territorial by nature, and they are not especially fond of moving to a new house, rearranging the furniture, or adding new housemates. If you have recently adopted a new pet, make sure each one has dedicated spaces for themselves, and check that you have enough litter boxes if you have multiple cats. 

5: They are sick.

If you have ruled out all of the above, it’s time to consider that your cat might not be feeling well. Sick cats are often avoidant. If you notice that your cat is not eating well or is newly aggressive, an appointment with your veterinarian might be in order. 

Extraordinary Veterinary Care (Even If Your Cat Ignores Us)

No matter how opinionated or solitary they may be, cats make it easy for us to love them. Here at East Valley Animal Hospital, we make finding excellent veterinary care just as easy. Yearly wellness checks can help you keep your cat healthy and happy. Contact us today to make an appointment.


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (7/2/23). Photo by Manja Vitolic on Unsplash.