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How Far Can Cats Hear? The Facts & FAQ

Written by: Lorre Luther

Last Updated on June 10, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Calico cat with ears pointing up

How Far Can Cats Hear? The Facts & FAQ

Domestic cats are amazing creatures. They can jump five times their height, tap into the earth’s electromagnetic field to navigate, see minute movements in the dark, and feel astonishingly minor changes in airflow with their whiskers. And those aren’t the only surprising things cats can do!

They can also hear in a wider range and from further away than humans. Most cats can hear sounds anywhere from 2,300 feet to 2,900 feet away, and they can also hear sounds in a wider frequency range than humans, so we can easily add stunningly good hearing to the already long list of kitty superpowers! Read on for more information about cats and their hearing.

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So Cats Can Hear Better than Humans?

Absolutely! Cats can not only hear sounds from further away than we can, but they can also hear a broader range of frequencies. Humans can generally hear voices and understand what’s being said from around 500 feet away.

We can sometimes hear a person speaking but cannot determine what they’re saying from around 1,000 feet—if the person is yelling. Cats, on the other hand, can easily hear sounds made from 2,300 to 3,000 feet away. Cats’ hearing is generally four to five times better than humans.

And kitties can also hear a greater range of frequencies. Humans can hear sounds in a range from 64Hz to 26,000Hz. Cats, on the other hand, can hear sounds from 48Hz to 85Hz. They have one of the broadest mammal hearing ranges! For comparison, dogs can hear sounds between 40Hz and 60Hz, giving cats a clear win in the hearing department!

Cats are also pretty good at pinpointing where sounds are coming from. They can determine a sound’s provenance within 3 inches from a whopping 3 feet away. Their ears can move a full 180° to locate the direction a sound is coming from, and they can move their outer ears independently of each other.

Kitties have 32 muscles in each ear, allowing them to move their outer ears precisely. The cute triangular part of a cat’s outer ear is technically called the pinna. Cats can zoom in on sound by moving their outer ears. Pointing their ear in a specific direction increases their ability to hear what’s happening in that area by up to 20%!

Gray cat looking at something nearby
Image Credit: manfredrichter, Pixabay

Why Do Cats Have Such Good Hearing?

Cats are predators, and many of their senses developed to help them find and track prey. They can see clearly at night and have a wider field of vision than humans. Their eyesight is optimized to see quick movements in dim light, and dusk and dawn are when cats prefer to hunt.

Their whiskers are full of nerve endings that help cats “see” up close. Their sensitive paws pick up on minuscule vibrations that allow them to feel the movements of critters around them. They developed exquisite hearing and moveable ears for precisely the same reasons—to locate and catch prey.

Are There Cats Who Can’t Hear?

Yes. Some cats are born deaf. Cats with white fur and blue eyes are prone to deafness, as are certain breeds, such as Persian, Devon Rex, and Manx cats. Cats also lose their hearing due to age, toxins, and infections.

Aspirin, for instance, can cause cats to go deaf if consumed in sufficient quantities. Tumors in and around the ear and conditions that attack the auditory nerves can also have a negative impact on feline hearing.

Middle and inner ear infections can damage a cat’s delicate internal ear structures to the point where deafness results. Common signs include inflamed skin around the ear, headshaking, and ear scratching. Some cats suffering from an infection also have an unpleasant smell wafting from their ear or a discharge. Ear Infections can usually be caught and treated before they result in severe hearing loss.

What Happens if a Cat Can’t Hear?

If a cat is born deaf, they’ll learn to navigate the world without relying on the ability to hear. The same is true for kitties that lose their hearing later in life, but they may have more trouble with their balance than cats born with the impairment.

Cats are incredibly adaptable, and most learn to use their other senses more efficiently. While most cats who are born deaf or who lose their hearing do just fine, they’re at a serious disadvantage when it comes to avoiding predators. As a result, it’s critical to keep your feline companion inside or to only allow them outside on a leash if you suspect they’re suffering from hearing loss.

British Shorthair Appearance
Image Credit By: Taut, Pixabay

Is There Anything I Can Do to Protect My Cat’s Hearing?

Because cats’ hearing is much more acute than ours, limiting your pet’s exposure to loud noises is essential. There’s a reason cats become agitated when exposed to crying babies and construction noises.

It’s best to take your cat for regular check-ups to ensure everything is okay with their health. Your veterinarian will ensure your cat’s not suffering from an ear infection or other ear-related issues, like mites. Most veterinarians recommend a yearly check-up for healthy young adults and middle-aged cats and twice-yearly visits for senior felines.

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Final Thoughts

Cats’ hearing puts ours to shame! They can hear up to five times further than we can in a stunningly wide range of frequencies. They use their super hearing to pinpoint prey, stay safe, and keep track of their owners. If you’ve ever wondered how your cat knows you’re home before you open the door, it’s because they can hear you coming from several feet away!

Featured Image Credit By: akirEVarga, Pixabay

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