Hearing and Your Pet

Ever catch your cat staring at a blank wall and wonder why?

More than likely she was listening to sounds coming from inside the wall.

Did you know that a “whole tone” (like in music) that we can hear, a cat hears it as 10 separate tones.

A cat can hear ultrasonic sounds (high pitched) that we cannot even imagine.

Dogs on the other hand are equipped with ears that hear the lower spectrum of sounds. They cannot hear as well as cats, but have a range of about 250 yards away, while a human is lucky if it can hear something that is 15 to 20 yards away.

A dog’s hearing is dependent its size. A small dog has small ears and can hear high pitched sounds almost as good as a cat can, while a large dog is better equipped to hear low sounds.

Research has shown that with the passage of time humans have lost some of the sharpness of their hearing and cats and dogs have sharpened theirs.

Nature has given humans a less complex set of ears, while our pets are blessed with superior pieces of machinery.

The outside of you pet’s ear is like a satellite dish that picks up the sound waves and moves them down the ear canal to an organ called the Corti, which has more than 7,500 working parts.

Your voice becomes a sound wave that then travels through miles of nerves, until it gets to the brain and your pet hears what you are saying.

Did you know that puppies and kittens are deaf for the first 2 weeks of life. During that time their hearing is really the picking up of body vibrations, so they are actually feeling your words instead of hearing them.

The ear canals open up little by little, and by the time they are 4 weeks old their hearing is almost up to Mom’s standards.

Cats really like high pitched voices better than lower level voices. Cats are more apt to pay attention to words that are spoken with a higher pitch.

Since we usually talk to our pets in our normal voices, most of the time they rather ignore us. If you want to get their attention, change the tone of your voice, speak some words softly, others a little more loudly and whisper to them. It is guaranteed to get their interest.

We humans use our ears for hearing and sometimes for adornment, our pets however, use their ears to convey their feelings.

Ears, along with other body parts, are all a part of a dog or cat’s language.

In many cases the shape of a dog’s ear depended on its job.

In a dog’s world ears have evolved from the pointy straight-up ears, wolves have, to the many looks of today, all dependent on what the dog was bred for.

The straight-up ears or the semi straight-up ears that you find on German Shepherds, Collies and most Terriers are great for hearing. These dogs have been bred as working dogs and/or for hunting, where good hearing is an important factor.

Dogs with floppy ears such as Labs, golden retrievers and hounds, have ears that are down to help muffle sounds and to help develop their sense of smell and sight for specialized hunting. They are called sighthounds.

Cropped ears (which is being frowned on more and more) was done to make Dobermans and Rotties and others look more fierce as the breeds were used mostly as guard dogs.

What do certain positions mean in regard to a dog’s mood?

Slightly raised ears mean I am a happy dog and all it right with my world. Ears that are raised high means I am interested in what’s going on. Flat back means I am afraid of something and ears that seem to be moving back and forth mean I am not sure how I feel. Straight back and fur ruffled means I am agitated or mad, watch out.

Cats on the other hand have ears that stand straight up, with the exception of the Scottish Fold. Straight up, perky ears means all is well in my world. Straight up and back means “MEOW” I am mad. Flat against its head and down means I am scared and very afraid, while swiveling around like an antenna means I am listening to something interesting.

Well, that’s it for the ears of our cat and dog world, I hope you learned something you did not know and that you will appreciate the great gift that hearing is, not just for our pets, but for us, too.