BAER Testing for Cats

Having a new kitten is exciting and full of fun. So many things need to be taken care of to ensure the health of your new friend. After the initial veterinarian appointment, you will probably know what to do and how to take care of the animal. As the kitten grows, you may notice behaviors that are not what you expected, and you begin to worry that he may be unable to hear. Not responding to startling sounds or meowing rather loudly are nuances that can indicate hearing loss.

This is also something that many cat owners notice as their pet grows older, hearing loss in animals is common and, at times, produces worrisome behavior. If you are a cat owner who has seen some issues with your companion at a young age or even with your older cat, the BAER test may be something to bring a bit of peace to an otherwise stressful situation. After the test is done, which is not painful and, in most cases, does not require sedation, the owner will have answers. These answers will give clarity and reassurance to the owner on how to give the kitten/cat a happy and healthy life.

vet examining cat ears

What is BAER Testing?

As we grow older, it is common for adults to lose some hearing. We can usually tell by the need to turn the TV up louder and straining to hear conversations with others. Animals can also have hearing loss, and it is common for older cats to become deaf. If you believe your cat is showing signs of hearing loss, the BAER test could help solve the mystery. BAER testing is simply a test to evaluate the hearing ability of an individual animal.

The brainstem auditory evoked response or BAER tests the animals' ability to respond to an auditory stimulus. The test is completed by using a specialized computer to record the auditory responses in each ear of a kitten and can also be performed on an older cat. A BAER test gauges the complexities of the external ear canal, middle/inner ear cavities, cranial nerve, and some areas of the brainstem. The BAER will help the veterinarian determine if the issues noticed by the owner are caused by deafness or a varying degree of hearing.

Why Do Cats Need BAER Testing?

The basis for the BAER test is to determine if the animal can hear. This may be a congenital disability that prevents a kitten from ever hearing. It also detects acquired hearing loss in older cats. People often start noticing little nuances or quirks that, once time has passed, create a pattern of behavior that elicits concern. If the animal does not respond when called or when the owner comes home after a long day away, these are both signs that there could be something wrong with the cat's ability to hear.

One prevalent sign of hearing loss in felines is meowing very loudly. This is due to the cat's inability to hear and gets very loud to elicit a response. The testing is often done around eight weeks of age. The test can be performed later for older cats and does not affect treatment outcomes. It is diagnostic only.

Cat owners must watch for certain behaviors, including not waking quickly after sleep or not responding to sounds that bring excitement, like the opening of canned food or the bag of dry food. It is possible that some animals are not bothered by these sounds, and the test will rule that out. It is possible that a cat could be deaf in only one ear. No matter the difference, the BAER test is necessary to rule out any other issues.

How Does BAER Testing Work?

The test is simple enough to take place in the veterinarian's office without sedation. The test is completed using a specialized computer and must be performed by a trained veterinarian or specialist. Some kittens can fall asleep during the procedure. If the procedure is being performed on an older or anxiety-ridden cat, it is possible to sedate the animal if needed.

Most all kittens and older cats do not feel any pain as the test is performed. The dog will have 3-4 electrodes placed under the skin on the head and a soft foam piece set in the ear. A sound, usually a click, will be emitted at various decibels to assess the cat's hearing ability. Each ear will be tested separately, and the total time will be no longer than thirty to forty-five minutes.

vet checking the cat's ear

Why Choose Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital?

Advanced Care is more than just a primary care hospital. Our patients and clients are unique to us and are why we always treat everyone who comes to visit as another member of our family every time they walk in our doors. We do not treat every patient the same because we understand that each requires individualized care and attention.

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Meet Our Doctors

Jennifer Patton
DVM, CVC, CCRT

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Dr. Patton’s decision to pursue veterinary medicine came after she realized that while education and teaching is her passion, it is not something she could do as a career. Veterinary medicine allowed her to combine her love of animals with her love of teaching.

After she graduated from Oklahoma State University with her Doctorate, she practiced in several high volume hospitals in the Tulsa area, developing medical skills with varied case loads and growing her leadership skills.

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Allissa Huckabay
DVM, CVA

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Dr. Huckabay’s love of science and animals naturally led her to a lifelong passion of veterinary medicine. She worked and volunteered at a local veterinary hospital before she furthered her education at Oklahoma State University, graduating in 2016 with her Doctorate.

Dr Huckabay immediately found her home at ACVH, where she is able to create a healthy bond with each of her patients as she experiences all stages of their care with their owners.

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Matt Sellers
DVM

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Matthew Sellers, DVM is a graduate of Oklahoma State University Veterinary Health Sciences, where he also attended his undergraduate studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Agriculture through the College of Animal Science. Dr. Sellers was on the Dean's list and Presidents Honor Roll during his time at OSU. After a year of general practice, Dr. Sellers began studying acupuncture through the Chi Institute and completed the course in December of 2016.

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Phillip Adolph
DVM

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Phillip Adolph, DVM is a graduate of Oklahoma State University Veterinary Health Sciences. He also attended OSU for his undergraduate studies where he graduated with a Bachelors of Arts and Sciences in Agriculture through the College of Animal Sciences. Dr. Adolph was on the President’s Honor Roll and was a member of the OSU jazz orchestra. He joined the Advanced Care team immediately upon his graduation in 2019 after doing 6 weeks of externships during his 4th year of veterinary school.

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