Generally speaking, when people think about animals with exceptional hearing, chances are good that it will be a bat that comes to mind. After all, bats are famous for the fact that they use echolocation, meaning that they have to have excellent hearing to be able to locate surfaces by receiving the high-pitched sounds that they make bounced back to them. However, it is important to note that other animals can have excellent hearing by human standards as well, with an excellent example being the hearing of cats. In fact, a cat’s hearing is actually better than a dog’s hearing in the sense that it can hear a wider range of sounds, which can be attributed in part to its ears. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about cat ears:
1. 32 Muscles in Each Ear
A cat has 32 muscles controlling each of their ears. For comparison, a human has no more than 6 muscles for controlling each of our ears. This makes sense because a cat’s ear is capable of a much greater range of motion, as shown by how it can rotate by up to 180 degrees.
2. Capable of Detecting Small Variances in Sound
It is interesting to note that a cat’s ears enable them to pick out even small variations in sound, so much so that even a change as small as a tenth of a tone can be picked out. This is useful for the cat because it provides them a great deal of information about what they are sensing, which can be very useful when they are out on a hunt.
3. Important For Balance
Like their human counterpart, the cat ear is critical for helping the cat maintain its sense of balance because it contains structures that help them figure out how they are positioned as well as how they are moving. As a result, if a cat’s ear is damaged, they can suffer from a loss of balance in much the same way that humans can experience the same.
4. Cat Ears Are Communicators
A fair amount of a cat’s body language can involve their ears. For example, most people should be familiar with the fact that if a cat’s ears are flattened against their skull, the cat is either angry, scared, or otherwise agitated in some manner. As a result, people who are interested in learning a cat’s mood might want to read up more on these cues.
5. Some Cats Have Strange Ears Because of Mutations
Some cat breeds started out because of mutations that produced a physical change that proved interesting to humans. Some examples include both the American Curl and the Scottish Fold, which have strange-shaped ears because of a mutated gene. In the case of the American Curl, this affects the ear but nowhere else. In contrast, the mutated gene responsible for the Scottish Fold increases their chances of getting arthritis as well.
6. Middle Ear Separated Into Two Compartments
It is interesting to note that the cat’s middle ear is actually separated into two compartments by a septum. Something that can prove irritating for veterinarian because it makes it more difficult for them to get access when a cat has a middle ear infection of some kind.
7. White Cats with Blue Eyes Have Higher Chances of Deafness
White cats with blue eyes have higher chances of being born deaf because the same gene that is responsible for their coloring can cause issues with the hairs in their ears. As a result, if they are unlucky, that can led to non-functioning cells, which in turn, leads to congenital deafness.
8. Cat Ears Don’t Need Human Cleaning
Cat ears have their own cleaning systems, which are pretty efficient. Due to this, there is no need for pet owners to clean their cats’ ears, particularly since that can actually cause problems for their feline companions.
9. Cats Are Born with Ear Canals Sealed
It is interesting to note that cats are an altricial species, meaning that kittens are born in a relatively undeveloped state that requires their parents to take care of them for some time. As a result, kittens are actually born with their ear canals sealed as well as their auditory system undeveloped, though their sense of hearing will start improving soon enough.
10. There Are Hearing Tests for Cats
Perhaps unsurprisingly, hearing tests can be pretty challenging to conduct for cats. Sometimes, cats are not responsive because of stress. Other times, even when the cats are responsive, the standard hearing tests can’t tell if they are deaf in a single ear rather than both ears. Recent times have seen the development of new hearing tests that can overcome such problems by detecting relevant electrical activity in the cat’s neural system.