How can cats use their hearing to detect the presence of a mouse?

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A cat’s hearing is highly acute and directional. With an ability to detect sounds in a range of 30 hertz to 60 kilohertz, a cat can pick up sounds at five times the distance of a human. Cats hear higher frequencies than dogs, but cannot distinguish low range tones as well as humans.

The upright, erect ears of a cat are controlled by 30 muscles — twice as many as a dog’s ears — and can swivel independently up to 180 degrees. A cat can track two sounds simultaneously whether they are a few inches or three feet apart.

Using hearing alone, a cat can judge size, distance, and direction in 1/600th of a second. Plainly put? A mouse squeaking in a high frequency range is no match for a cat’s radar-like hearing coupled with his superior vision and sense of smell.

Cats evolved for the precise purpose of preying on small vermin like mice. Their senses are honed specifically for that purpose, and their hearing allows them to track their prey precisely. Add to this the fact that a cat’s intelligence allows him to understand that an object he does not see still exists? The mouse hole is no safe haven for a determined feline.

All cat owners have had the experience of finding their cat staring fixedly at the ceiling. You can tell yourself nothing is there, but your cat knows different. When a cat is clearly listening, something is there.

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