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How Do Cats Hear So Well?

Updated: August 11, 2022 by Kristen Chapple

Cats are known to have ‘super’ powers. While this might seem like an exaggeration, if you think about it, compared to us humans, cats do have super abilities. One of these abilities is their hearing. We’re sure you’ve wondered how do cats hear so well. We’ve also wondered that and we will explain it here in more detail.

As we all know, cats are predatory animals and their abilities reflect that. No matter if your lovely feline pet is a home cat, he still has those old predatory instincts hardwired into his brain. And that outstanding sense of hearing is just part of that.

How Do Cats Hear So Well

This is an evolutionary mechanism which allowed cats to adapt to their environment a lot better than many other animals, dogs included. And when it comes to hearing, we humans fall way behind cats. Remember those moments when you cat stands completely still and stares into nothingness? Well, she’s just hearing something you can’t.

The Range

As opposed to humans and even dogs, cats can detect a broader range of sound frequencies. They can hear higher pitched sounds, ranging up to 79 kHz, which is much higher than the 20 kHz of a human.

What that means in plain English is that cats can hear ultrasonic sounds. While they don’t use ultrasounds as a form of communication, some rodents do, so that’s the reason why cats have evolved to hear those sounds. They need it to hear and locate that mouse.

The Sensitivity

Another important technical part of a cat’s hearing is its sensitivity, which is a lot better than most other mammals and most acute in the range of 500 to 32 kHz. That helps them react better to what happens around and locating with good precision the source of the sound. Which is a big deal when they’re trying to catch their prey at night. Their precision is amazing, being able to locate a sound made almost 3 feet away within only 3 inches. It’s like a radar. Or sonar if you wish.

You’ve probably heard that blind cats have no trouble getting around and even jumping from place to place. That’s the result of their superior ability to detect sound, which is a cat’s second most important sense.

The Ears

Responsible for hearing and balance, a cat’s ears are an important asset of their body, one that offers them a great advantage in the fact that they can rotate their big outer years 180 degrees, amplifying sounds and helping them better sense the direction of the sounds.

Imagine it’s like having two rotating mini satellite dishes on top of their heads.

Cats and Music

Now here’s a fun fact. Cats are – contrary to mass belief – responsive to music. Sometimes, if you play music loud, they might go away but if it’s something soft, they’ll hang around. They might just not be into loud punk music. Also, research shows that music made specifically for their auditory senses can actually have therapeutic effects for cats.

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