CAT BEHAVIOR forum: White Cats... Blind?

 
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ImagesylviaNDcity
Feb 18, 2010 10:05 PM CST
Name: Sylvia Butler
Dallas TX 8a
I have been told by many people that all-white, blue-eyed cats will usually go blind at an early age. As the owner of a wonderful blue-eyed, white cat (seven years old), I am concerned. Is there any truth to this, or is it an old wives' tale? (I hope it is.)

Research shows
Blue-eyed, white cats are not more prone to blindness - either hereditary or acquired - than other cats. Your friends may be confusing blindness with deafness: here, the situation is completely different. Hereditary deafness is a major concern in white cats, and even more so if one or both irises are blue in color.

Researchers found that only 17 to 22 percent of white cats with non-blue eyes are born deaf. The percentage rises to 40 percent if the cat has one blue eye, while upwards of 65 to 85 percent of all-white cats with both eyes blue are deaf. Some of these cats are deaf in only one ear. Interestingly, if a white cat with one blue eye is deaf in only one ear, that ear will invariably be on the same side of the head as the blue eye.

Cats with just one deaf ear may appear perfectly normal, and their problem may never become known to their human companions. Even cats that are totally deaf from birth can make perfectly satisfactory companions as long as a few precautions are heeded. Catwatch logoTry 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. There is no treatment for hereditary deafness.

Thumbnail by sylviaNDcity

ImageStephGTx
Feb 18, 2010 10:43 PM CST
Name: Stephanie Gonzales
Texas
I don't know about what "research" says, but I have a lot of experience with cats. My experience has been that majority of all white cats that are bi-eyed will prove to be deaf. Not as likely with all white cats with both blue eyes.

BTW I have an all white cat with both eyes green who happens to be deaf. She is now 9yrs old.I also have an all white cat who has both eyes blue who is not deaf. He is now 15yrs old.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
ImageStephGTx
Feb 18, 2010 10:48 PM CST
Name: Stephanie Gonzales
Texas
sylviaNDcity wrote: I have been told by many people that all-white, blue-eyed cats will usually go blind at an early age. As the owner of a wonderful blue-eyed, white cat (seven years old), I am concerned. Is there any truth to this, or is it an old wives' tale? (I hope it is.)


Interestingly, if a white cat with one blue eye is deaf in only one ear, that ear will invariably be on the same side of the head as the blue eye.




The first part of this I do not believe to be true. The second part,however, IS true.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
katie59
Mar 3, 2010 11:29 PM CST
Name: xxa aax
bbb, bbb
http://www.messybeast.com/whitecat.htm

This is a nice article with a section that explains the connection between coat color and deafness.

ImageLindaTX8
Mar 31, 2010 11:39 PM CST
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX
We had a male white cat with blue eyes who was deaf. He kind of adopted us...started coming to eat from our cats' food bowl. I didn't know about the deafness for quite a while...DH finally noticed that he didn't react to loud noises. It helped to know why he didn't come when called...I finally used a hand signal...when I could get him to look in my direction. He was a really good cat and ruled the roost in many ways until he got older and then died suddenly.
katie59
Apr 1, 2010 3:32 PM CST
Name: xxa aax
bbb, bbb
It's hard to believe that a white and deaf cat could survive very long. That's two things that would make it harder to avoid predators. I'm glad you had him as long as you did.

Imagemeezers6
Apr 6, 2010 9:08 AM CST
Wisconsin
This is off topic so feel free to boot me out. We have a visitor, I call him Mr. Al Bino. He's an albino squirrel and I'm wondering if the albino has anything to do with deafness. He certainly is alert, so I think he hears well. Sight may be another issue, because my understanding is that albinos have vision problems. He doesn't seem to have trouble finding his way up a tree when I come out to snap his picture. I just bought a new camera with a better telephoto feature .....just so I can take his picture. This is the only one I've gotten so far that doesn't make him (?) look like scrap paper blowing in the wind. .

Thumbnail by meezers6

It's best to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
katie59
Apr 6, 2010 8:56 PM CST
Name: xxa aax
bbb, bbb
Holy cow. Great picture. Isn't that interesting? I wonder if someone at your local wildlife sanctuary would be able to ask that question.

I would think that similar genetics would apply to all mammals, but I just don't know about squirrels!

I think that there is a difference between white coloring and albino. A true albino is actually missing pigment as opposed to be colored white. I think it's the missing pigment that makes the eyes unable to take sunlight.

And that's about as much as I know. Thanks for posting that. And congrats on your new camera. I'd feed the squirrel a few extra peanuts as he was the justification for your new toy. ;-)

katie59
Apr 6, 2010 9:03 PM CST
Name: xxa aax
bbb, bbb
Here's a link. If you google white squirrel you can find lots of images of them. I had no idea, but it doesn't seem to be unheard of.

http://www.whitesquirrelinstitute.whitesquirrelfestival.com/

Most of the stuff I read says that white squirrels are albinos, but white dogs aren't all albinos - nor are white cats, so I don't understand why there is this assumptions about squirrels. Anyway, it's pretty interesting.

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/set/squirrels.html

ImageJeannie63
Apr 8, 2010 7:29 AM CST
Name: Jeannie
North of Milwaukee, WI
zone 5A
Sheila, did you know that siamese cats are albinos, and that not all albinos are white?

This is an interesting article that I came across:

http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/publications/volunteer/young_na...

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
- Dr. Seuss
Imagemeezers6
Apr 8, 2010 9:25 AM CST
Wisconsin
My adobe reader won't pick that up. I knew that the siamese gene was recessive, if you breed a meezer to another type cat you will never get siamese offspring, although they may have some characteristics. Did you see my white squirrel??
Well, he's not actually MINE, he just visits. How's Thor these days? Still doing well on his meds?

I've finally outfoxed Souky in her resistance to taking hers. She cannot live without freeze dried Salmon treats...so as soon as she hears the bag rustle she comes flying. And get medicine before she gets a treat. She hasn't figured it out yet.
It's best to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
ImageJeannie63
Apr 8, 2010 9:35 AM CST
Name: Jeannie
North of Milwaukee, WI
zone 5A
Wonder why your adobe reader won't open the file? Hmm..

Thor is doing well. I bribe him with canned food (Evo Duck). He has to take his meds before he gets his treat. I think he may be getting some arthritis though, because he is slow to go up and down the stairs some days. We added a litter box on the ground level for him, and of course Sunshine tries to fit his fat butt in there sometimes!

Yes, I have seen your pictures of your squirrel! Hopefully you can get a good enough picture of Al to see if his eyes are red - that would make him a true albino instead of just a white squirrel!
"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
- Dr. Seuss
katie59
Apr 8, 2010 12:11 PM CST
Name: xxa aax
bbb, bbb
What a great article. Thanks for posting it.

It does refer to the problems with vision in albino squirrels. "The absence of melanin results in disorganized development of eyes and leads to problems with focusing, depth perception, and tracking."

It's interesting that they say that not ALL white animals are albinos, but then they go on to say that white squirrels ARE albino. Why can't there just be white squirrels? Hmmmmmm. Anyway, it's the red eyes that give it away.

I have a Siamese-colored cat that came from a calico mother (her offspring were yellow, calico, siamese, and gray). The calico mother's sibling is tuxedo. And in that colony was also white, black, and ragdoll coloring, with differing head and body shapes and eye colors . . . it was crazy. One black female grandmother and several miscellaneous males that wandered through.

We've stopped all that madness, thank goodness.

Imagemeezers6
Apr 8, 2010 6:06 PM CST
Wisconsin
I'm hoping to get a close up of him so that I can see if his eyes are reddish. I don't see any other coloration on his body, he seems to be white all over.
It's best to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
katie59
Apr 8, 2010 10:48 PM CST
Name: xxa aax
bbb, bbb
Hmmm - maybe this calls for a brand new lens. You know, so you can get the picture. Right? LOL

Imagemeezers6
Apr 9, 2010 11:40 AM CST
Wisconsin
Nahhh, I went and bought a whole new camera!!! LOL
It's best to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Imagecoconut
Apr 24, 2010 6:19 PM CST
Name: Melissa E. Keyes
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Zone 11
Sylvia, I wouldn't call your cat, in the very first photo, a pure white cat because of the ears, they look like they have a hint of brown.

Here's SusieQ who isn't completely white. Her sons were pure white. She certainly does hear me when I raise my voice into a high pitched squeak, kiiity kitty kitty.

She has crossed blue eyes.

Thumbnail by coconut

Melissa

Imagemeezers6
May 2, 2010 6:47 AM CST
Wisconsin
I'm getting closer....this was yesterday afternoon, not his usual time to visit. I flew out the door camera in hand, and got several shots, but this is the best one.

Thumbnail by meezers6

It's best to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Imagecoconut
May 2, 2010 7:05 AM CST
Name: Melissa E. Keyes
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Zone 11
There are albino plants, also. The seed sprouts, but they have no green chlorophyl, so they die after a few days.
Melissa

katie59
May 5, 2010 11:16 PM CST
Name: xxa aax
bbb, bbb
Wow. That's an awesome photo. He's a big squirrel.

My SIL accidentally set a container over top of some Hostas because they were getting too much sun. She forgot and I happened to remove the container last weekend while I was there working in her garden. They are pure white - blanched, like asparagus - I'll be interested in seeing how they do the est of the summer.

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