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Article about deafness in cats
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Please note that most of the literature about the anatomy of cats is in English.

Congenital Deafness and Its Recognition, George M. Strain, Ph.D. (Englisch) 
Dalmat Web, Artikel über Taubheit (Deutsch) 
Deafness in Dogs &Cats, George M. Strain (Englisch) 
Liste von Artikeln, die sich mit Taubheit bei Katzen beschäftigen (Englisch) 
Pigment Parade, Lorraine Shelton (Englisch) 
The 1995 All Breed White Deafness Survey, David Brinicombe (Englisch) 
Tufts' Canine & Feline Breeding and Genetics Conference 2003 (Englisch) 
Vererbung der Prädisposition für Taubheit und Augenfarbe bei weissen Katzen, Caroline Geigy (Deutsch) 


Skeleton of cats

The Ear of the cat


1 Ear drum
2 Auditory canal
3 Ossicles
  • The hammer, whose handle is attached to the ear drum.
  • The anvil, whose body is connected to the head of the hammer through an articular facet.
  • The stirrup (4), whose head is connected with the longer process of the anvil through the lenticular bone.
4 The stirrup, which is attached to the  oval window ( = fenestra ovalis).
The oval window is the entrance to the atrium of the cochlea, here the sound is transmitted into the cochlea.
5 Round window (fenestra cochleae), it works as leverage of the sound pressure.
6 Eustachian tube
7 The three bony bows form the semicircular canals, which are the sense of equilibrium.
8 The vestibular part of the auditory nerve
9 The cochlear part of the auditory nerve
10 Cochlea
Ear Click on the term to get a description.


Click somewhere in the picture to enlarge the picture.

Organ of Corti 1) Organ of Corti Click on the number to get a description.


Click somewhere in the picture to enlarge the picture.

What does the cat hear?


The hearing frequency of a cat ranges from 40 to 65.000 Hz.
A human has a range from 16 to 24.000 Hz, a dog between 60 and 45.000 Hz. The deepest sound (infrasound) with 12 Hz can be heard by the elephant, the highest sound (ultrasound) with 120.000 Hz can be heard by the Beluga whale.
Example: 64 Hz correspond to the lowest tone on a piano, 65 kHz mean that a cat can hear 2,5 octaves higher than a human.
For example, think about those animal collars, which are operated via ultrasound, how uncomfortable and distressing those collars are for the cat. Or think about those light switches and plugs operated via ultrasound, how much they disturb a cat.
A cat is extremely sensitive to frequencies between 1.000 and 20.000 Hz.


Also the intensity (dB = decibles), how loud a sound is, is noticed by the cat 10 times more acutely than by a human, by the dog it is heard 5 times more acutely.
Example: 30 dB correspond to an intensity caused by whispering. The dog hears whispering from 3 times as far away as the human, but the cat hears that from 6 times as far away as the human.
That is also the reason, why cats, but also dogs may react frightened or aggressively to those bangs of New Year's eve's fireworks or to thunder.


At birth the external auditory canal is closed, that is why the sense of hearing is not yet developed. Development starts with 5 days, with 2 weeks a kitten is able to discriminate the direction of a sound. And with 4 weeks the sense of hearing is fully developed.

Why white cats may be deaf

Read the article about deafness in cats.



1) Alfonso Giacomo Gaspare de Corti
1822, Gambarana – 02.10.1876, Corvino San Quirico
Italian anatomist
He studied from 1845-1848 in Vienna at Prof. Joseph Hirtl, where he finished his studies of medicine and received his doctor's degree in medicine in 1847.
In 1850 he moved to Würzburg, when he got an invitation of the anatomist Albert Kölliker, where his famous work "Recherches sur l'organe de l'ouïe des mammiferes" was publishd in 1851 in Kölliker's journal "Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Zoologie", Vol. 3, map 2.
In 1851, after the death of his father, he returned to Italy. The last years of his life were marked by his severe arthritis.

CORTI and his research, N Engl J Med. 1952 Mar 13;246(11):428-9.
You will find further articles about Corti In PubMed.
Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Zoologie, Albert Kölliker, 1851, Würzburg, Vol. 3 (German) 

Alfonso Corti
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