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I’ve often wondered how well the cats hear.  Googling ‘cat hearing’ I have learned that cats can hear sounds at 64 kHz, nearly 1.6 octaves higher than we humans; a full octave higher than dogs hear.  How accurate is their hearing? At a distance of 91 cm their ears can focus the hearing on an object to within 70 mm.  (So that’s how the Big Guy can track the occasional spider that dares challenge him on his turf.)

But, if their hearing is so good, why don’t they hear me?

I’ve tried a number of things to test their hearing and have come to the conclusion that they hear what they want to hear.  The other senses do a pretty good job of warning them about the approach of danger, the availability of food and what corner of my freshly tilled garden plot makes the best bathroom.

But hearing?Blutto2

To test the theory that they hear just fine I conducted a few tests:

1)      The sound of Tidy Cat being dumped into a clean box.  Cat owners know that most cats prefer to utilize a ‘clean’ and well-manicured box if at all possible.

2)      The sound made when I slowly twist off the lid from the treat jar.

3)      The sound of the alarm clock.

The Big Guy would argue that what I see as reactions to sounds are not Pavlovian responses, the actions of cats trained to respond to certain events. He would say that they are responding as they believe the humans would want to see them respond.  When asked to explain he offered the example of the ‘treat jar’.

I have a jar filled with Friskies Party Mix; a cat treat that comes flavored with salmon, tuna, cheese or some other taste they are expected to like.  I’ll slowly twist the lid off and put a few treats on the table; cats appear as if my magic and devour the treats before slinking off.  Per the Big Guy, they are getting rid of the snacks before they can attract flies and mice.  Just looking out for the humans; wanting to keep the house clean.

If that were true, if they really cared about the house then why do they leave hair balls scattered about on the floor?  Seriously?

The alarm clock heralds the new day and a reason to dash about the house for 10 minutes, ensuring that all human occupants are woken up.  They hear the clock and use that as an excuse to sprint from one end of the house to the other, knocking things off tables, tipping plants over, slamming into each other (which sets off a fair amount of hissing and whining,eventually  freaking out the squirrel who begins to bark.

It doesn’t matter how quiet the alarm is or when it goes off (I move the time around just to see if I can throw them off). They hear it and begin to make their presence known.  Precious the cat has tried to convince me that it is the dawn that inspires them to celebrate the return of the sun with wild abandon but I know better.  If I set the alarm to ring at 11:00 at night, I’ll get the same performance.  They hear the alarm and go into ‘wild’ mode.

Once again, they are responding with antics that we ‘like’.

Do you see a trend developing?  I can trigger a response by creating a sound.  It doesn’t need to be day or night; if I make the sound, they respond accordingly.  They hear the sounds.

However, if I call to a cat who may be sitting a few feet away, she’ll not respond.  This is a 13 year old cat who has gotten accustomed to hearing the name; who can start purring as I say the  name and brush her fur.  She knows the sound of the name. But, as she needs to demonstrate her lack of hearing, no response.

I called out the kitten’s name the other night and she turned her head.  One of the older Preciouscats went over and smacked her on the back of her head, reminding her that cats do not respond.

The sound of dinner. The quiet little ‘pop’ when you pull up on the tab on a can of Friskies wet food and the cats will hear it, no matter how far away they are.

The gray cat doesn’t like canned food but he comes running, just the same.

On more than 1 occasion I’ve seen the Big Guy run in from behind the shed (100 yards away) at the sound.  Yeah, he hears. He knows the sound of the cat food can pop top and can hear it over the sounds of the factory next door, the commuter train tracks a few hundred yards  away and the drone of C-130 aircraft overhead.

FattyAnd the litter box. Changing the powder triggers a celebratory visit to the box by each of the Court Cats; accompanied by much flinging of sand, extensive landscaping and what I can only describe as terraforming (and you thought the Chinese Government was the only group who could create a land-mass out of sand?). Just the sound the  lid generates as it is being removed from the bucket of powder  is enough sound to rouse the cats from a deep sleep and call them to the party.

So, do cats hear? Yes, I believe they hear just fine.  

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It’s already the 2nd week of August on the Court.  The cats are doing well.

The temperature has been running a few degrees cooler than normal.  The nights have been in the mid-50s and the days rarely over 82.  The Maine Coons have lost a lot of their heavy coats; Blutto looks to be half the cat he was back in January.

Missey isn’t a fan of the cool nights and spends her days sitting in a sunny window.  She celebrated her 13th birthday 2 weeks ago (I served up a dish of her favorite wet food for the occasion).  According to a chart that I found on the wiki, her age, in human years, is about 70. On the Court she is the Alpha; none of the other cats will cross her path nor will they disturb her when she sleeps.   Age has it’s privileges.

The sibling cats are doing well; the female spend her days outside.  Her territory covers includes our house as well as the neighbor’s houses on both sides.  She patrols from sunrise to sunset; coming in only to eat and drink.  Her brother, on the other hand, goes out into the back yard but doesn’t leave the back yard at all.

And Precious, her territory covers the entire court.  Of all the Oak Court Cats, she has the largest territory.  As the prominent hunter on the Court, she covers the most ground.

This summer we have some guests. A trio of Peregrine Falcons has settled into the tall pines up at the end of the block.  There’s a small park with a number of older pines and the 3 birds can be seen roosting on the higher branches or flying around the neighborhood.  The squirrels in our yard tend to be more cautious these days (Not sure but I think the squirrel population had been reduced a bit). More of them are coming into the back of the house when looking for handouts.  they used to stand on the picnic table and wait for someone to toss some peanuts out.  Now they come inside the back door, where the birds can’t see them and wait for peanuts.

Blutto sits on the sidewalk, in plain view, and stares at the birds as they fly around the back; it’s as if he’s telling them that this is his territory and they need to move on.  At his size and strength I would imaging it would be a good battle should one of the birds come down for a closer look.  Hopefully they won’t and life will go on.

Anyway, it’s late and the cats are settling in for the night.  I’ll post this and call it a day myself.

I live in an old house on Oak Court.  My wife,  our son and his daughter  and I live in a nice house built back in the early 1930s.  The block is quiet; very little traffic, other than the squirrels, birds and cats.  The cats….

As anyone who has provided a home to felines knows, you don’t own cats, you provide them with a place to sleep and a steady supply of food.  You never really ‘own’ them,  in the way you ‘own’ dogs, turtles and parrots.  If they are pleased, they will allow you to continue showering them with affection, food and the occasional touch of catnip.

Four cats reside in this house on the court.  I’ll introduce them in future posts; for now you can assume they are pleased with the quality of the food and the quantity of kitty litter and have not expressed the desire to move elsewhere.

It’s mid-afternoon as I write this; they’re scattered around the house and yard.  The queen is sleeping on the sofa while the young female is napping on top of the boxes of Christmas decorations above the garage.  The older male is sleeping on top shelf of the cat tower, in the living room.  And the young male, a Maine Coon, is happily stretched out in the flower box behind the garage.  The house is at peace.

While they’re quiet I can go about cleaning the bowls, shoveling the litter and putting away the various cat toys that are scattered about the house.  It’s quiet and that may not be a good thing – I don’t know what they are up to.