By Janet Marlow, Founder and CEO of Pet Acoustics Inc.
Pet product innovator, composer, sonic behaviorist
Have you wondered why your cat magically slips away before you hear a knock on your door? Or why he becomes agitated before you detect any sign of a thunderstorm? In the air, where sound and noise travel, exist sounds above and below human hearing. But our amazing cats hear them! Feline hearing is three times greater than human hearing. A cat’s ability to detect faint sounds and high pitches is astounding — one of their most important senses for survival in nature.
In order for us to better understand our beloved feline friends, we must become aware of their amazing hearing ability. Very low or very high frequencies and strong vibrations may remain invisible to human ears, but in cats, they trigger strong behavioral responses. A loud drum roll from a music sound system can easily cause your cat to feel stress and run away. Sound can also attract our curious friends. They can hear an insect wing vibrating on the window, nocturnal sounds in the backyard and city streets, the high pitched whine of the computer, the crinkle of the treat package, and the music-to-their-ears can you’re opening for their dinner.
Most cat breeds have upright ears, which make responding to sound easy. Cats have 30 to 32 ear muscles, depending on the breed. For this reason, a cat can easily turn its ears for surround sound-like hearing. Watch your cat’s behavior in response to sounds as a way to learn what he is experiencing in his world.
Sometimes cats sit very still and stare at the ground. Their keen hearing is detecting movement. Cats are good mice hunters because they can hear the high squeaks and tiny movements that a mouse can produce. In fairness, a mouse can also hear the cat approaching, because it can hear sounds at an even higher and lower range than a cat. That’s the game of cat and mouse!
Learn your home from your cat’s perspective. Your cat’s sonic life exists at several different heights. Their ears are about one to one and a half feet from the floor; they’re at ear level with us on the couch; and they can also climb to high-perches. So tune into your house to feel the vibrations through the floor with your hands, put your ear to the refrigerator or computer to hear the hum and frequencies, key into the rumble of trucks on the road and the sounds of planes in the sky coming through the window. This is their sonic world.
Oh! And cats are picky about your music too! If you are playing music that disturbs their Zen, they will leave the room. If she likes your music, a cat will find the best spot in the room to listen, curl up and rest. They are nature’s acoustic scientists!
Your cat’s amazing ability to hear and respond to sound is a fascinating and important part of her life. Become a keen observer of your cat’s ears and responses to sound and you will become part of cat’s invisible world of sounds.
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