Feline hearing is exceptionally well developed, and cats can hear noises that are quite inaudible to the human ear. They can hear ultrasonic sounds that precede an activity, which is why they often react before we are even aware that anything is happening. The ear is made up of three sections: the outer, middle and inner ear.
The outer ear
The ear flap pinna acts as a funnel to direct sound waves down to the eardrum which is tautly stretched across the ear canal, separating it from the middle ear. The eardrum vibrates in response to sound waves.
The middle ear
In here, three small bones – the hammer malleus, anvil incur and stirrup stapes – transmit the sound relayed from the eardrum to the cochlea, which is contained within the inner ear.
The inner ear
The cochlea is a spiral cavity, containing the organ of Corti that converts the sound vibrations transmitted from the middle ear into nerve impulses. These are then passed along the acoustic nerve to the auditory cortex of the brain, where they are decoded and recognized by comparison with sounds stored in the memory bank.