I call them “airplane ears,” and if you have a cat, you’ve probably seen them. My kitties flatten their ears back and out in this way when they are being stubborn—which usually involves standing on the desk in my home office, directly in front of my computer monitor, and refusing to move. It’s hilarious, annoying and fascinating all at the same time—as cats tend to be.
Of course, they put their ears in other positions as well. When they are alert, their ears perk up. When they are preparing to pounce, they point their ears forward. Why are they able to do this when our boring human ears just lay flat against our heads? Because feline ears are each controlled by 32 muscles.
Rotation – Those 32 muscles enable your cat to rotate her ears up to 180 degrees. Not only does it look cool, this also allows her to pinpoint the direction of every sound.
Balance – Cats often land on their feet when they fall, and their ears have something to do with this. Three semicircular canals and a vestibule in each one transmit critical information on direction and body position to her brain.
Shape – Most breeds of cats have erect triangular-shaped ears. Gene mutations are responsible for those that do not, such as the Scottish Fold and the American Curl.
Mood – As I mentioned earlier, one look at your cat’s ears can often give you an indication of her mood. Ears back and sideways, like airplane wings, may mean she is feeling aggravated. Ears flat against her head may mean she is terrified.
What have you noticed about your cat’s ears? Tell us in the comments!