GETTING TO KNOW A CAT'S EAR
Creature Companions|November 2020
Childhood memories of the dainty Tom napping beside a dining table, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings, and the dashing Jerry defeated in his tip toeing attempt to savour those delicacies on the dining table by power of those cat ears are part of our lives and that of our kids’ as well! Tales about the uncanny ability of cat’s ears is something that we have all been fed with from childhood.
Dr. Reeja George P.

And it’s true. Though she may seem to be napping in warmth of the November morning Sun, don’t underestimate her ears! Cat ears are always on the guard. And more than that, unassuming as they may seem, cat’s ears have a very impressive capacity of detecting sounds in the range of frequencies of as high as 60 000 vibrations per second; much higher than a human ear that catches sounds of up to 20 000 vibrations per second. This is the result of evolutionary process that has worked on cat’s dual needs of fending for itself, as it stalks for prey, and protecting itself from its predators as well.

WHY IS CAT’S EAR SO IMPORTANT?

Generally speaking, ear infections are not a major issue for vast majority of cats. There are, however, quite a few ear problems that could be painful for her, besides posing significant threats to her hearing. If these conditions are not addressed appropriately, they may in the long run cause deafness. So we have to be a little careful when it comes to caring for kitty’s ears.

CAT EAR BASICS

An understanding of ear basics is crucial to minimizing the risks of possible ear issues. With regard to the basic structure, a cat ear is similar to the one in humans, and for that matter, to most mammalian ears. Just like us, they have got a part of the ear that is visible externally to eye and this external ear is also called the pinna. In addition to the part that you can see, external ear also includes first part of a small tube like ear canal that goes deep into the head. And matters do not stop there. The ear continues into the head and its middle part is called the middle ear; it consists of a stretched membrane like structure that actually shivers or vibrates along with other small structures when sound waves come into the ear. Third part of ear – the inner ear – is located very deep in skull and has all the nerves and other paraphernalia that are responsible for deciphering sounds. So to put it very simply, this is a cat’s ear – and yours too for that matter – which in all its seeming simplicity – is also a very fragile system that needs to be handled with utmost care!

HEALTHY CAT EAR

Cat ears are generally pink in colour, without any tell tale signs of discharges such as crusting on inner aspect of the ear. Cats with healthy ears would generally not spend much time scratching or pawing at them.

EXTERNAL EAR PROBLEMS

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