Anyone who has shared life with a cat knows they can see better than dogs or humans. According to an article on LiveScience, "Cats have a wider field of view â€” about 200 degrees, compared with humans' 180-degree view, and a greater range of peripheral vision."
But how does their hearing match up?
Humans and felines have the same average low-range hearing ability, but cats can hear up to 1.6 octaves above what humans can hear and one octave higher than the range of dogs. According to FirstVet, "Cats can locate a sound from up to 3 feet away and pinpoint the location of the sound within 3 inches." Match that, dogs. (Hint: They can't.)
Watch your cat when something catches his attention. His external ear flaps, controlled by 32 muscles, move around and can rotate up to 180 degrees. This ability gives him an edge in locating squeaks or rustlings nearly undetectable to mere mortals.
Disorders of a cat's ears
Cat's ears are remarkable, but their narrow ear canals invite issues. Felines are prone to otitis externa or inflammation of the outer ear canal. Cats have fewer ear problems than dogs, but the accompanying inflammation is excruciating for both. However, it is usually easy to resolve if caught early by a veterinarian.
Otitis externa in a cat's ear canal can be caused by autoimmune disorders, allergies, parasites, or a foreign object in the ear. In addition, the dampness of the canal can create an environment for bacterial and yeast infections to grow.
If you see your cat scratching or rubbing his ears, if his ears look red and swollen or have a foul odor, if he shakes his head a lot, or if there is a discharge from his ears, you will want to see your vet as soon as possible. Otitis externa will only worsen and can mess with your kitty's balance. An article on Dutch.com states that if left untreated, the infection can "spread to the middle or inner ear where it can damage tissue and cause permanent hearing damage."
How to protect your cat's hearing
To prevent hearing issues upfront, check your cat's ears on a regular basis. Think, "Pale pink with no stink." Look for a build-up of wax, swelling, redness, bad odors, or discharge. Your surroundings should be free of mites, dust, or other irritants. And ask your vet to show you the proper way to clean your cat's ears. If your cat doesn't cooperate with you, a regular preventative visit to the doctor might be in order.
According to an article on Martha Stewart's website, cats recognize their names when you call. They can also identify the names of other cats in the family and maybe even your own name. Their hearing is unique and requires extra care by you to keep it that way. Remember what cat-lover Stephen Baker once said, "Cats' hearing apparatus is built to allow the human voice to easily go in one ear and out the other."
How well do cats hear?
Do Cats Hear Better Than Dogs?
Feline Vision: How Cats See the World
Cat Ear Infections: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
Do You Have More Than One Cat? New Research Suggests They May Know Each Other's Names