Long before they were used as the main part of someone’s lazy Halloween costume, cat ears have been used by cats for all kinds of important purposes. A cat’s ears are a key part of their survival and are useful in communicating emotions. Unfortunately, they also leave cats susceptible to infection and infestation. Knowing about how your cat’s ears work can increase your understanding of your cat in ways you never imagined.
Cats can hear things that you and other animals cannot.
A dog’s ability to hear high pitched noises is well known. What about cats? It turns out Cats can hear noises at pitches that even dogs do not detect. This advantage for cats is part of what makes them great hunters. While we go about our day, blissfully unaware that our walls are infested with mice, cats have the 411 on the whole situation because they are able to hear a mouse’s high pitched squeaks. If your cat is acting strange and pawing at the walls, it could very well mean that an unwelcome intruder has taken up residence in your home.
Cat’s ears move in the direction of potential threats and points of interest.
If you ever wanted to know what your cat is thinking, just take a look at its ears. If a sound is of particular interest to a cat, it will turn its entire head to have its ears fully directed towards the source. However, if a cat only thinks a noise is mildly suspicious, it may just point its ears in the direction of the noise without any further changes to the cat’s movements.
Cat’s ears are integral to them always landing on their feet.
We are all familiar with the reputation for cats to always land on their feet. Why is that? Well, it has to do with something called the vestibular apparatus in their inner ear. This mechanism gives cats the instinctual ability to understand up from down as they fall. They can then make use of their uniquely flexible backbone to twist themselves in the air and stick the landing (almost) every time. Contrary to popular belief, their ability to land sick back flips has very little to do with their tails.
Cats can tell you how they are feeling with their ears.
If you are about to blow your pay-check on mood rings for cats, put your wallet away! Everything you need to tell how your cat is feeling is sitting right on top of its head. When your cat is a relaxed, its ears will be facing forward. Think of this as the default position. When your cat is annoyed and irritable, its ears will dart around. Think of this as a metaphor for the restlessness it is feeling on the inside. When your cat feels threatened and scared, it will fold its ears against its head, supposedly to protect its ears from the swipes and attacks of its enemies. When your cat is feeling angry and has shifted into attack mode, its ears will flatten half way and stick out to the side like out-stretched wings. Best to keep your distance from any cat whose ears are flattened to the side.
If you are noticing that your cat is shaking its head, scratching its ears, and is secreting a black or brown wax, your cat might have ear mites. Cat ear mites are especially common in kittens and outdoor cats. If you notice some of these symptoms, take your cat to the vet to get a proper diagnosis. If it is ear mites, they will prescribe an ear mite medicine for cats. How do cats get ear mites? Ear mites are contagious. Cats can get them from other cats or from sleeping in unclean areas like the beds of other animals.