Video: Cat Hearing
Although we have given priority to the sense of smell, and deservedly so, nevertheless, let's not forget that our cats have great hearing. This can be confirmed by any cat owner, observing how his four-legged friend rushes to the door only when one of the family members knocks and no interest is shown if it is a stranger. At the same time, pets will confirm how your pet cat recognizes your own steps from afar.
Or a situation when a kitten, before that peacefully played with a ball, suddenly rushes into a corner and cautiously peers into the corner and cautiously peers into a crack, obviously expecting the desired mouse to appear from there. Of course, we can assume that cats and mice communicate with each other in a special, inaccessible to us "language", which our ears do not perceive at all. But in order to take this assumption seriously, let's find out how the cat's organ of hearing works and what sounds it perceives.
First of all, we note that it is very complex and subdivided into three sections - the outer, middle and inner ear, and in addition there is also a central section located in the brain. The outer ear is the most noticeable and well-known part to everyone, since it constantly catches our eyes and the cat often uses it, at least the shell, which we simply call the ear. The shell is a high fold of skin, triangular in most breeds, but some breeds have a different shape. More than a dozen muscles control the movements of the auricle, so it can change its shape, and most importantly, its position relative to the head: bend, nestle, rotate almost 180 °. At the base of the shell, in the middle, there is a small opening leading to a narrow canal - the auditory canal, which ends in a dead end,tightened with the thinnest tympanic membrane. This is where the middle ear begins, but we will return to this section later, and now we will talk directly about the auricle.
It is essential that many blood vessels pass through it, and that on the inside its surface is filled with long, rarely growing hair, and outside the hair is short, but it grows very densely. The shells are in motion all the time, while the right and left can move independently of one another. These features of the shell are indicative of its functions. It would be wrong to think that they are only related to hearing. This is too wasteful for nature, and wherever it can, it loads one and the same organ with several tasks at once. For example, a cat's ears give off excess heat and, therefore, are involved in thermoregulation. Remember how your cat suffers in the summer, covered with thick and warm fur. The sink is one of the few places on her body through which excess heat is removed to the outside.
The auricles perform signaling functions, demonstrating feline emotions and intentions to other animals and the owner. Thus, ears flattened and turned back signifies a declaration of war; pressed - willingness to fight; turned back - warning; forward and pulled up - alertness; turned forward - curiosity. In short, ears play the same role in communication as, for example, the tail.
Well, what about the hairs growing inside the shell? They are also useful because they protect the ear canal and membrane from debris and insects. Cats suffer from this no less than humans. We can remember what trouble the mosquito that flew into the ear canal caused us and how we rushed to the doctor about this. Let us sympathize with cats that are not able to consult a specialist in such a case, but more often encounter insects seeking to use their ears as a refuge. Therefore, nature made sure that a lattice of hard hairs that protect the ear canal appears in the path of these insects.
Thus, the hairs are related to hearing. But still indirect, and direct - the use of the shell as a sound-collecting funnel, amplifying weak, but very important sounds for the cat. First of all, the rustles of mice and other rodents that the cat feeds on. Further steps of other cats, among which there may be friends and enemies. Finally, the steps of its owner, the steps of dogs, and in nature - foxes or wolves. In time, the cat received a signal about the appearance of prey - it reacted, caught it and ate it. Did not receive a signal about the enemy, did not prepare, did not run away - they caught and ate him. Tuning to vital sounds is at the heart of the entire work of the organ of hearing. But it starts with the auricle, which is already acting to give a green light to more important sounds as an alternative to less important ones.
Some of these sounds are very weak and we have already talked about them.
But there are quite strong, loud, vital sounds when there is no need to make special efforts to perceive them at the limit of audibility. These are the voices of other cats, especially cats, kittens, dogs, the owner and family members, etc. But it is important that they are often masked by other sounds, just like them, but insignificant for the cat, for example, everyday sounds. In this case, the organ listens and solves another task, separating vital sounds from the surrounding sound environment and recognizing them. This task is mainly solved by the central sections, although the outer ear contributes to this due to the resonances of its air cavities, by the way, changing with the movement of the shell.
But there is one more - the acoustic problem, in the solution of which the sink plays an important role. This is the location of the sound source or, as they say, the localization of it. Indeed, what is the modern detection of mouse rustles worth, if the cat did not know where the mouse itself is. Or that it is worth identifying by the voice of a neighbor's cat, if it is impossible to determine where he is screaming from. For this, the organ of hearing uses both shells simultaneously, right and left.