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Litters of white kittens needed to help understand inherited deafness

 white kittens

Did you know that animals with a predominantly white coat are more prone to deafness? A veterinary charity is looking for feline participants to help investigate how many white cats are born deaf. 

The Animal Health Trust, a leading veterinary charity based in Suffolk, was one of the first places in the country to offer Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) hearing tests in 1992 for cats and dogs for congenital deafness (deafness that is present at birth and therefore likely to be hereditary). Since then, the Trust has pioneered the use of BAER hearing tests to routinely screen litters of kittens and puppies with predominantly white coats to detect those animals that are born deaf.

Unfortunately, the genetics behind this phenomenon are still unclear, and so The Animal Health Trust’s new study aims to better understand the prevalence of congenital deafness in white kittens and their littermates in the UK. It will also be a basis to further investigate the genetic heritability and genetic defects behind the disease in white cats in the future.  

The study focuses on four key breeds: British shorthair, Norwegian Forest, Russian and Turkish Vankedisi and is offering breeders a FREE BAER hearing test for the entire litter of kittens, as long as at least one of the litter is completely white. The kittens must be between 9 and 13 weeks old to take part in the study. It is also desirable, but not essential, if the sire and dam’s (or stud and queen's) eye colour, coat colour and hearing ability can also be provided to help aid the investigation.


Cat competition!

Win 1 of 4 Igloo Starter Kits!

This week we're giving away an Igloo Starter Kit to four lucky readers. The Starter Kit includes includes the 2 in 1 Igloo cat loo and carrier, eco liners, filters, one month's supply of Igloo Snow Litter, a scoop and Crystal Clean Cleaner and Ice Fresh Deodoriser - everything you need to keep your kitty (and your home) clean and happy! The winners can select their chosen colour from the nine colours available.

The Igloo 2 in 1 is a unique cat loo and carrier. Designed in a unique shape unlike other carriers and litter trays, it is the perfect shape for your kitten to turn comfortably and arch his back, as well as being enclosed to eliminate smells. When it is used as a carrier to collect your kitten, he will already feel in a safe environment and will be unafraid of getting in for those little trips to the vet in the future. 

The Igloo comes with eco-friendly liners and filters along with the starter kit which includes Snow Litter - a fine silica that instantly coats the faeces, so all you remove is the faeces, ensuring there is no waste. It absorbs and dries quickly so there is no smell - and it doesn`t stick to paws so no tracking around the house!


Cat health

Why does my cat have diarrhoea?

Why does my cat have diarrhoea?

Many cases of diarrhoea are mild and short-lived, only lasting for a few days, and will resolve on their own.

Does my cat drink too much?

Does my cat drink too much?

If you want to determine how much water your cat is drinking, allow her only one source of water, our expert explains.

Cats in the home

How do I keep my cat's scratch post clean?

How to keep my cat's scratch post clean

Cats use their scratching post a lot, especially if they spend most of their time indoors. But how do you keep them clean?

Will they be happy indoors?

Considering keeping your cats indoors? Read behaviourist Francesca Riccomini's essential advice...

Outdoor cats

Buyer's guide to outdoor gear

A round-up of cat runs, cosy kennels and weather-proof climbing towers for the outdoor cat.

Which plants are toxic to cats?

Millions of cats go into gardens safely with poisonous plants, but it's worth being aware of what's safe for your cats to eat.

Kitten care

VIDEO: A safe kitten home?

Watch our video to find out how you can prepare your home (and make it safe) for the arrival of your kitten.

Your essential kitten care plan

How to keep your kitten healthy at every stage of his development, including vaccine and neutering information.