Her soft chirp of a meow tells me I'm welcome...and that my approach was no surprise. Clearly, my own "cat-
like" stalking is no match for this cat's ears.
Though the ears of most cats may be small physically, don't let that fool you...a normal, healthy cat's hearing is excellent, allowing the cat's ears to be able to detect a wide range of frequencies.
How Much Do You Know?
Who, from the list below, hears the highest pitched sounds?
While you think about your answer, here are a few tidbits about the hearing range and how it's measured:
Ok, once you know the answer and think about it...the results are really no surprise.
Everyone knows that cats rule...dogs drool...and man is left saying "I didn't hear anything"!
So, the correct hearing range for each species listed above is:
Now keep in mind, the above hearing range can vary between individual people or animals due to health, injury or the normal decline that comes with age.
It seems impossible to say that out of all the cat body parts one is more important than the other...but, I do feel confident in saying that the cat's ears, with their incredible hearing range, surely secures them a spot near the top...and I don't just mean the "top" of their heads!
(We hear the background noise of the people..the cats ears hear so much more!)
Take a moment to look at the above drawing...do you see the shape? This cone-shape structure of the cat's ear is often referred to as the ear flap, though the formal name of this cat body part is the pinna.
The ear flap allows the outer ear to collect and funnel sounds into the ear canal.
Each ear of the cat has thirty muscles (compared to humans who have only six muscles in each ear.) These muscles allow the cats ears to be mobile...actually, very mobile, for each ear flap can rotate independently 180 degrees.
Why This Is Important
The hunter cat can remain still and undetected...Yet by moving it's ears, the cat can collect and amplify sounds from all around to determine if the sound is friend or foe...danger or dinner.
Now, watch your cat's ears. What do they do?
From this little experiment, it should now be easier to understand that the incredible sensitivity of the cat's ears means that the cat is not solely dependent on "seeing" prey to be a successful hunter.
The cats hearing enables it to zero in on sound, locate its "target" with great accuracy and ultimately, launch a swift attack. In fact, often the first time prey is actually seen by the cat is after it finds itself under the cats paw.
Have you ever heard of people who truly believe their cats have ESP? You know...
Though there is much discussion and debate among researchers and analysts, Britches and I have a tendency to believe that much of this behavior can be attributed to the cats ears and their hearing sensitivity.
Just as human family members become accustomed to familiar, everyday sounds of the home and surroundings, so do our cats.
For example, consider how each of our vehicles have unique and distinctive sounds...With their extraordinary hearing range, once familiar with the family car, it is conceivable that our cats can hear us coming before we get there!
Well, substitute a cat and its cat food, and you'll see the similarities. Before you can say "here kitty kitty", with only the "clink" of the pull tab on the canned cat food or the "rattle" of the kibble being poured into the bowl, you'll find your fuzzy feline at your feet wondering impatiently asking "what's taking you so long?"!
With the ability to hear practically "everything"...thank goodness our feline friends have the ability to "selectively" process and filter what they hear...otherwise, it could be pretty overwhelming.
In fact, within households around the world, this is proven with those times when we call for our cats to come...and they just stay put!
The Cat's Ears...Better Than A Mood Ring!
Visit our Cat Behavior section to learn the