Have you ever wondered how your cat heard you opening that can from a few rooms over? Or what is your cat hearing when his ears start twitching?
Cats’ hearing is exceptionally sensitive and one of the best of all the mammals. It ranges from 500 Hz to 32 Hz. Sound is amplified by their large movable outer ears, also known as their pinnae. The pinna is large, pointy and cone-shaped. The cat can move it around as much as 180 degrees with the help of 30 sets of muscles. This outer ear also helps the cat sense the direction from where the sound is coming.
Did you know that cats can hear higher pitched sounds than humans or even dogs? They can detect frequencies from 55 Hz up to 7 kHz, which is a range of about 7 octaves. Humans can hear high pitched sounds from 31 Hz up to 18 kHz, and dogs can hear them from 67 Hz to 44 kHz. These are both ranges of about 6 octaves. Cats use their ultra sensitive hearing for hunting, since many rodents make ultrasonic calls. Cats don’t really chase their prey for long distances, so they need this superior hearing to listen to clues that the prey is nearby. After hearing their prey, cats wait until they can pounce.
Sound waves make the cat’s eardrum vibrate. The vibration makes three tiny bones in their ear move. This pushes on a liquid filled membrane at one end of the cochlea. When the membrane is pushed, it causes waves in the liquid. These waves flow over hair-like cells that are sticking inward from the bottom of the cochlea and cause some of the hair cells to move. Each of these cells sends a signal to the brain. Depending on which cell is moved, your cat hears a different pitch.
40 percent of white cats are deaf in both ears and 12 percent are deaf in one ear. Deafness is associated with a white coat color, but not all white cats are deaf. Usually cats with the dominant white gene (W) are deaf, and white cats with two white parents are more likely to be deaf in one or both ears. Cats with two blue eyes can also be more likely to be deaf than cats with just one blue eye. And, a cat with one or two blue eyes has more chances of being deaf than a cat with an eye color other than blue.
If you have a white cat or any cat and want to check his hearing, you can make a startling noise or hissing sound. Make sure you are out of his sight and he can’t feel your vibrations or wind currents. Deaf cats can learn to respond to vibrations and signals. These kitties need to be protected from dangers they can’t hear coming, especially outdoors.
Don’t forget that regular ear car is very important. Start a weekly routine of checking your cat’s ears for mites and other infections. Also, don’t forget to regularly clean your kitty’s ears.