The Animal Health Trust (AHT) is carrying out a study to investigate why congenital deafness in white kittens is so common.
The study will focus on four breeds: Norwegian Forest, British shorthair, Russian and Turkish Vankedisi.
Breeders will be offered a free brainstem auditory evoked respose (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 the ages of nine and 13 weeks old to take part. It is also desirable, but not essential, if the sire and dam’s eye colour, coat colour and hearing ability can also be provided to help aid the investigation.
The test, which is simple and generally does not require sedation, will be carried out at the AHTs headquarters near Newmarket by a fully trained neurology technician.
It will monitor the kitten’s brain response to a series of clicks to establish whether the animal hears normally, or is deaf in one or both ears.
Each kitten will receive an official BAER hearing test certificate stating the results.
The AHT says obtaining more information will greatly improve understanding of the disorder and increase the chance that fewer cats will be born deaf in the future. It is hoping to get 30 more litters to complete the study.