Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

cat ear

from the June 23, 2008 Newsletter issued from the woods edge near Natchez, Mississippi, USA,

Here I coexist with five dogs and two cats. The other day one of the cats was rubbing against my leg when I noticed its peculiar ears, one of which is shown above.

Why do cat ears, and dogs as well for that matter, have those pockets toward the back? I spent some time on the Internet trying to learn the pockets' function. Browsing from cat-ear page to cat-ear page, I found a good bit of information. For example:

My browsings even turned up a webpage with pictures of four-eared cats. You can see that at http://www.messybeast.com/freak-ears.htm.

I never found a definitive statement about the function of those pockets, other than "probably help with hearing." However, since having input from two eyes enables the human brain to create binocular vision with depth perception, I can imagine that the pockets in our pets' ears serve as a second set of ears, possibly in the pets' brains creating a sensation like auditory depth perception, something poorly developed in humans. Maybe high-frequency, short- wavelength sounds bounce around in the pockets before being focused through the slit clearly visible in the picture, toward the eardrum. The difference in arrival times of sounds of different wavelengths at the eardrum could provide the basis of the sensation.

In the dog ears I've examined the pockets are less developed than in the photographed cat ear.