Feline Hearing Ability

Cat Hearing

Cats have considerably better hearing and sound localisation than humans. For adult cats, the upper hearing limit is around 50,000 Hz, whilst young cats even hear sounds up to 100,000 Hz. In contrast, we just about manage to hear sounds of 20,000 Hz. This figure decreases rapidly amongst old people, which becomes very evident when they can no longer hear high frequency sounds such as dog whistles or bat calls, for instance. Likewise, dogs fall behind cats with a hearing range of up to 40,000 Hz.

 

Oh so quiet

In terms of sound intensity too, cats are way ahead of us. A sound that remains just about audible for us can be perceived by cats with just 1/1,000 of its sound intensity. In order for them not to be overwhelmed by unmanageable background noise from all sides, cats filter sounds that are particularly significant to them: for instance, mice constantly make a quiet squeaking noise to keep in contact with fellow mice, which cats can perceive from a distance of 20 metres. Equally, their hearing deteriorates as they get older, but it remains so good that together with tactile sense, it can fully replace their sense of sight. Hence, a blind cat is by no means disoriented.

Always receiving

The consequence of this excellent sense of hearing is clear: cats detest loud music and shouting. Due to their hunting techniques, it has always been important for them to perceive the quietest of sounds. Although many domestic cats no longer have to hunt to fight for survival, their hearing is still highly sensitive. They register ultrasound noises before we notice that something unusual is afoot. Even when they sleep, their ears are always set to receive. Maybe they need so much time to rest because they don't gain the benefits of truly deep sleep.

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