Friday, May 23, 2008

Life with a deaf cat

One of my cats is deaf, the white one, Olivia. I realized this the day she showed up at our house as we were packing boxes to move out. She sat in front of nine barking dogs and didn't move a muscle. Then she saw me, and came over to get some pets. Then she walked into our house as if she owned the place and found a nice, comfy box to sleep in. When I saw that the movers' loud noises didn't bother her, I realized she couldn't hear (not uncommon in white cats, so I've heard). We decided to keep this little kitten when we couldn't quite figure out where she lived (and we were in a hurry, and one of the movers wanted to take her home with him), and I thought a deaf cat was not going to last very long being allowed to run the streets of Costa Rica anyway. So we packed one extra thing and took her to the new house with us.

Despite what you may have heard, cats actually do hear you when you call their names. Whether they choose to respond or not is up to them. Most of my cats will come when I call them, except, of course, Olivia. There have been times when I've freaked out looking all over for her, looking in the backyard, looking around the neighboorhood in the pouring rain, when all along she was asleep in some closet somewhere, and after all of this looking around the neighborhood in pouring rain, coming back into the house very upset that I can't find her, she comes strolling out of wherever she's been hiding, yawning, as if to say, oh hey what's up?

She likes to knock glasses (full or otherwise) from the kitchen counter onto the floor in the middle of the night. "Oh hey does this one make noise? Hm, nope. Ok, how about this one? No, not that one either..." More than one morning I have had to get up at the crack of dawn to clean up broken glass.

She does meow, or rather growl-meow, at Phoebe not-quite-a-kitten-anymore. Since Olivia was the only one who would give Phoebe the time of day, Phoebe sort of adopted Olivia as her mama-cat. They still play together, or rather Phoebe pounces on Olivia whenever she has the chance. To this Olivia will sometimes growl, if she's irritated enough. Otherwise, you could hear a pin drop when they play together, they are so quiet. It's as though Phoebe picked up Olivia's habit of quietness when the two of them are together. She (Phoebe, that is) does meow at me, though.

Olivia lately has been tapping me on the leg when I'm sitting here at the computer and she wants some lovin'. The other cats meow, but I suppose by now she's figured out that since she can't hear anything, maybe I can't either, so she'd better tap me just to make sure I know she's there. It's so cute.

She is the only one who doesn't run and hide during a thunderstorm (for obvious reasons). Actually, she seems fascinated by rain, and sits by the back door or the sliding doors for a very long time, just watching the rain fall.

Phoebe and Olivia

Anyway. I don't know why I wanted to tell you about my cat today. I suppose because it's a funky, overcast, rainy crappy day and cats are always good at snuggling up to you while you watch movies all day long. Or maybe it's just me who does that? I bet the rest of you out there are far too motivated to sit and watch the telly all day with your cats.

In other news, I have finally got some freelance work that will keep me busy until October-November. Hooray! I haven't done much of anything since January. Well, except be a stay-at-home mom to a three-year-old, and quite frankly, that's a job in and of itself. But I still need to do that other kind of work that actually pays you with money.

And, along with starting my new work stuff yesterday, I got in the mail an ARC (advance reader copy) of a book that I signed up for though LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. How fun to get free books! You can choose the books that look interesting to you each month, and then they select people based on various criteria (not that I know what those are, necessarily, as this is the first time I've ever gotten an ARC). So far the book is great! (Just for fun, if you go to this list and correctly guess which book I received, I'll send it to you when I'm finished.) So I should mention that I don't just watch the telly on boring, rainy days, I also read. There you go. My (not so) exciting life in Costa Rica these days!



  1. Hi, While browsing topics on hearing aids, I just happened up on your story of Olivia. I became suddenly deaf over two years ago.Right ear deaf from measles,since a child and then the left hear gone in one day. I happened to love the name Olivia. My Big Richie and I are going to look for a little sister kitty this week end and will name her Olivia. Thank you for your lovely story about Olivia. Sincerely Mary Ann Dennis, Port St lucie,Florida

  2. That is wonderful about your new kitty -- congradulations to you and your cats! I love the name Olivia, too. It was one of the names I picked out if we had had a girl, but we had a boy, so Olivia also got Finnoula and Siobahn as her middle names. :-) She is my little angel cat! She's so wonderful and sweet, I can't imagine what my life would be like without her. Hopefully if someone reads this they might consider adopting a cat or dog with a "handicap" such as deafness or blindness (though handicap is not a good word for Olivia; being deaf doesn't slow her down in the least!).

  3. Your cat Olivia looks just like my kitty, Blanco. Blanco is also deaf and I always have to clean up messes that he's made from knocking things down. He loves to knock the heaviest things down and then look to see what my reaction is going to be. But, he is the most loving kitty I've ever had. I've taught him some sign language, too. He loves "Eat" and gives me some kisses when I touch my nose.
    When you told your story about Olivia, I could really relate to how she acts. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hi Abby,
    Thanks for your story about Blanco! That's very cool that you taught your kitty sign language. I guess Olivia knows a little bit, too; since I can't call her, I make a "come here" sign with my hand and she usually does. Well, you know cats... :-)
    I wish I could figure out a sign for "Stop that!" ha ha...