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Animal Health Trust in Newmarket offers free hearing tests for kittens to aid research

PUBLISHED: 09:51 16 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:51 16 May 2018

The Animal Health Trust in Newmarket is offering free hearing tests for kittens to aid research. Picture: AHT

The Animal Health Trust in Newmarket is offering free hearing tests for kittens to aid research. Picture: AHT

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A Suffolk animal charity is investigating why animals with a predominantly white coat are more prone to being deaf by offering free hearing tests for kittens to aid research.

The Animal Health Trust (AHT), based in Newmarket, is offering the free tests to litters of kittens where at least one of the litter is completely white.

The offer is valid all year, not just during Deaf Awareness Week – which runs until Sunday.

The AHT’s current study aims to better understand the prevalence of congenital deafness in white kittens and their littermates in the UK, and will be a basis to further investigate the genetic heritability and genetic defects behind the disease in white cats.

Lorenzo Mari, a neurology clinician at the Animal Health Trust leading the research, said: “It’s relatively well-known that white cats are more likely to be born deaf, but there is still a lot to understand about why this is and the genetics behind this phenomenon.

“If anyone has a litter of kittens at the moment where one of the litter is completely white, please get in touch with us about supporting this study.

“By conducting this research, we’re taking the first step towards helping fewer cats being born deaf in the future.”

The test is completely safe and monitors the kitten’s brain response to a series of clicks to establish whether the kitten hears normally, or is deaf in one or both ears.

The hearing test is performed without sedation by a fully trained neurology technician, with several years’ experience of performing BAER hearing tests on kittens and puppies.

The owner can be present throughout the tests and each kitten will be issued with an official BAER hearing test certificate.

Kittens must be between 9 and 13-weeks-old and the whole litter must have a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) hearing test at the AHT to aid the study.

The trust would like to see non-pedigree cats as well as the following breeds: British shorthair, Maine coon, Norwegian forest, Russian, Turkish van, vankedisi, Devon rex, sphynx and Persian kittens.

For more information, or to arrange for your litter to take part in the study, contact lorenzo.mari@aht.org.uk or julia.freeman@aht.org.uk, or call 01638 552700.

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