How Well Do Cats and Dogs Hear?

Dogs and cats are a special category when it comes to hearing. So, first of all, let me clarify that both dogs and cats hear better than us, especially in the upper ranges. You might have noticed they can be nowhere in sight yet never miss the opening of a packet of chips or cookies. 

Of course, cats and dogs have selective hearing when it comes to us. However, their sense of hearing is phenomenal, so it will seem that most dogs and cats will only hear us when they want to. 

So now the question arises, do dogs hear better than cats, or do cats hear better than dogs? Let’s find out! 

Ear Structure 

Cats 

Because of the upright structure of their ears, cats can hear with amazing accuracy. In addition, the ear muscles help them rotate their ears 180°. Rotation of the ear is another great hearing factor, which we will know in the section below. 

When a sound is produced, it is funneled through their ears and received by extremely sensitive hairs located at the base of the ear. From there, the sound is sent to the cat’s brain by the auditory nerve. 

Even though they are good at selective hearing, a cat hears extremely well and knows what’s going on around in their world. 

Dogs 

Dogs can hear at the same accuracy as cats and their ears also pinpoint towards the sound source. Dogs are so good at hearing that even if a sound is coming from another animal, they can determine the height of that animal and know if it’s a predator. 

That is why defense forces use dogs in their team as they have great smelling sense and can hear sounds beyond our hearing range. However, a dog with floppy ears can’t hear as well as dogs with erect ears. 

Dogs pick up our tone and pitch of voices much better than we realize. To illustrate: dogs can determine what we say by our pitch and tone more than our words. 

When training a dog, his response is determined by how well we convey the command. For example, a sharper tone will draw his attention towards you. Furthermore, when you’re training a puppy, you can use a whistle to draw his attention. 

Do Dogs Hear Better Than Cats? 

Both cats and dogs possess a long ear canal that makes almost a 90° bend as it travels to the deeper parts of the ear. Therefore, it is almost certain that dogs and cats hear better than us. 

However, when it comes to Cats Vs. Dogs, Cats have a more sensitive sense of hearing than dogs. This is because of the following factors: 

Ear Muscles 

Dogs and cats use their ears to express emotion and to pinpoint their ears towards the sound source. Dogs have 18 muscles in their ears, allowing them to move each ear independently to determine where the sound is coming from. 

Cats have a greater range of movement as they have 32 muscles in their ears, allowing them to detect the sound source. 

Hearing Range 

Cats can hear at higher frequencies than dogs or humans. For this reason, a woman’s voice can be more soothing to a cat, especially if it’s upset. 

Cats can hear both the infrasounds and ultrasounds that humans cannot hear. Again dogs cannot hear infrasonic sounds, but they can hear and respond to ultrasonic sounds. 

Our sense of hearing is from 64 Hz to 23,000 Hz, but dogs hear up to 45,000 Hz. A cat’s hearing jumps into the higher-pitched range of 64,000 Hz. However, a cat’s range starts from 45 Hz, which means they cannot hear sounds below that range as we do. 

SpeciesApproximate Range (Hz)
Humans 64-23,000
Cats 45-64,000 
Dogs67-45,000 

How Well Do Dogs and Cats Hear? 

Cats can hear one octave higher than dogs and both can hear at the ultrasound level. In addition, because of the shape of their ears and ability to move, cats and dogs can funnel sounds to their ears. 

Our pets live in a world much different than ours, and especially with their talents, attributes, senses, they help mankind in many ways. Both cats and dogs can hear the ultrasound; cats can hear ultrasound even better than dogs, for instance. 

As our pets hear more sounds than us, the night could be relaxing for us but disturbing for them. Why? Because they can hear sounds that we cannot. So, let’s find out what kind of sounds are disturbing top cats and dogs.

What Kind of Sounds Are Disturbing to Cats and Dogs? 

Since cats and dogs hear better, sirens, loud music and raised voices may seem annoying to them. However, as the hearing ranges of the two animals are different, their reaction to them would be different too. 

Cats 

Cats get annoyed by high-frequency sounds like- 

  • Startling thumps
  • Bangs 
  • Fireworks 
  • Thunderstorm
  • Arguments 
  • Loud music 

And the many other sounds with high frequency. Remember, cats are sensitive to sounds. 

Dogs 

Like cats, dogs also get annoyed by a number of sounds, like- 

  • Fireworks and firecrackers 
  • Ambulance sirens
  • Thunders
  • Screams
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Hairdryers
  • Loud noise of appliances 

Ear Problems in Cats and Dogs 

Both cats and dogs hear better than us, but they can also be prone to ear problems. The causes of ear problems in pets are: 

  • Bacterial and yeast infections.
  • Ear mites.
  • Ear wax or dirt build-up.
  • Allergies.
  • Ticks.
  • Foreign bodies.
  • Polyps or other masses.

Cats 

It’s good to know what ear problems your cat can have and look out for the possible symptoms. It’s ideal for taking your cat to the vet for an ear exam after a certain time. Some common symptoms of ear problems include- 

  • Scratching excessively at ears and head
  • Sensitivity to the ears upon being touched
  • Tilting of head to one side
  • Shaking of the head 
  • Disorientation and balance problems
  • Redness in Outer ear and/or ear canal 
  • Swollen ear flap or ear canal
  • Foul odour
  • Ear discharge that may be black, brown or yellow in colour
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Partial or complete hearing loss
  • Ear bleeding
  • Behavioural changes such as depression or irritability

Some common ear problems seen in cats are- 

  • Ear mites
  • Outer ear canal infections
  • Ear Polyp
  • Allergies
  • Dermatophytosis (Ringworm)

Dogs

Have an ear exam for your dog to check if everything’s fine. The symptoms of ear infections in dogs include: 

  • Head shaking
  • Scratching at the affected ear
  • Dark discharge
  • Foul odor
  • Redness and swelling from the ear canal
  • Pain
  • Itchiness
  • Crusting or scabs in the ears

Common ear problems found in dogs- 

  • Ear mites
  • Foreign Objects (like grass seeds)
  • Moisture
  • Allergies
  • Wax buildup
  • Injury in the ear canal
  • Excessive cleaning 

Conclusion 

Now that you know everything about the hearing senses of cats and dogs, you can also find a suitable environment where they won’t feel disturbed. The hearing senses of cats and dogs benefited humankind in many ways; defense forces use dogs for rescue missions. They are also used to receive signals via ultrasound. 

However, as they have sensitive hearing, make sure they do not get disturbed due to loud noises in the neighborhood. Take an ear exam of your pet to ensure they are healthy and there is no dirt or wax in the ear.