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Feline Sense and Scents-ability: Hearing (Part 1 of 4)

Mar 28, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

Cat ears

Even though cats have the same five senses humans do, their perception of the world is much different. Sometimes, trying to understand a cat’s point of view can help shed some light on problems you may be having with your cat.

Feline hearing is functionally the same as human hearing. The pinna, or outer portion of the ear, collects sound waves and translates them down the ear canal. In humans, the ear canal is a straight shot to the ear drum, while cats have a vertical canal connected to a horizontal canal in an “L” shape from the top of the head, straight down and then turning inward. Once the sound waves have rounded the corner of the ear canal, they cause the eardrum to vibrate, stimulating the ossicles of the middle ear (tiny bones called the malleus, incus and stapes – otherwise known as the hammer, anvil and stirrup). These ossicles transmit the sound waves to the cochlea.

The cochlea is a fluid-filled structure in the middle ear. The sound waves are translated to fluid waves in the cochlea that are then sensed by nerves connected to fine hairs that float in the fluid and is then sent on to the brain for interpretation. This is the area that a human “cochlear implant” stimulates to help correct hearing loss. The feline cochlea has 3 complete turns while the human cochlea only has 2.75 turns. They have 10,000 more auditory nerves than humans. Near the cochlea is another fluid- and carbonate crystal-filled structure called the vestibular apparatus that is in charge of balance.

Cats are exquisitely adept at locating prey. They can distinguish between two different sound sources 8 cm apart (shorter than the length of an iPhone) at 2 yards and 40cm apart (about 1 foot, or a little longer than 3 iPhones) at 20 yards. They can hear a rustling mouse 20-30 yards away. They can hear 10 distinct octaves of notes vs. humans’ 8.5 octaves. They even hear one octave above their canine counterparts.

There are 4 sets of muscles that control the motion of the cat’s external ear flap, or pinna, and allow it to rotate 180 degrees to catch a sound and orient on it. You can use this information to make playtime more interesting for your cat. Make “hide and seek” with toys more challenging by using quieter, less obvious “prey”. Test your cat’s auditory awareness with a tiny crinkle from a crinkle-toy. See if they notice.

Even though you think they can’t hear you, don’t yell at your cat! He can hear you, he just isn’t listening to you.

When your cat is sleeping it is still attentively listening, scanning for audible information, which is why your “soundly sleeping cat” is standing right at your feet the second you open a can of food.

Dr Steven Bailey

Dr. Steven J. Bailey founded Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital in 1992. He obtained his Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University in June of 1986. After graduation, Dr. Bailey practiced emergency medicine for 8 years prior to establishing Exclusively Cats. Dr. Bailey is one of two veterinarians in the state of Michigan and the only veterinarian in Southeastern Michigan that has been board certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners as a Feline Specialist (ABVP). His special interests include complicated medical/surgical cases as well as critical care, advanced dentistry, and behavioral medicine. Dr. Bailey is an active member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), he is a current council member of the Southeastern Michigan Veterinary Medical Association (SEMVMA). He is also an Associate Editor of the Feline Internal Medicine Board on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), invited member of VMG #18 (The only feline exclusive Veterinary Management Group) and MOM’s group (Macomb/Oakland Management Group). In his free time, Dr. Bailey is an avid kayaker (some may even call him “obsessed”) and an instructor in both canoe and kayaking sports. He also enjoys running and spending time with his family. Dr. Bailey and his wife Liz have 2 adult children, Christopher and Kayla, 3 cats, Tic Tic, Sapphire and Lacey, and one dog, Charlotte.

Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital

6650 Highland Road

Waterford, MI 48327

Phone: 248-666-5287

Fax ‎206-333-1135

ecvh@exclusivelycats.com

Website: http://www.exclusivelycats.com

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Law of survival – Why Cat’s Don’t Cry in Pain

Sep 30, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Pain is a basic sensation, an indicator of physical distress. To a small animal in the wild, the exhibition of pain can be life threatening-an indication of weakness which could make it the target of a predator. This pain-hiding survival skill remains even though most of our beloved cats have moved inside. As a result, it is not easy to answer the question, “Is my cat in pain?”

For example, an owner may be surprised when an oral exam reveals significant dental disease, even though their cat is still eating well and has not lost weight . Nevertheless, when the doctor gently touches a tooth with an explorer, the kitty’s teeth begin to chatter, indicating pain. Owners wonder how could they have not known. Two components of feline behavior make pain assessment subtle.

Your cat lives in the present- another survival skill. In a cat’s mind: This is how I am today. This the norm. Your cat does not know that this is a new situation. It accepts the present and moves on. It does not remember less pain one month or one year ago. In addition, your cat more commonly shows pain via behavioral changes and less frequently by crying out. If it hurts to do something, your cat will try to stop doing that activity.

As your cat ages, arthritis may develop. The subsequent loss of mobility and stiffness build gradually. Your cat adapts by changing its lifestyle. You might interpret the changes as benign effects of old age, but they may be caused by pain.

To judge if your cat is in pain, look for behavioral changes such as the following:

  • decreased grooming behavior which could be due to a loose tooth or other mouth discomfort, or due to difficulty bending to groom along its back;
  • defecation outside the box which may be due to discomfort in hips and knees when trying to maintain the defecation posture or feeling unstable on a smooth litter box surface;
  • getting cranky or snapping during your grooming or petting sessions which may be due to inadvertently increasing pressure over tender joints or sore teeth;
  • increased time sleeping on the bed which may be due to general discomfort; and
  • becoming a loner as a new behavior which may be the result of the instinct to withdraw to avoid both physical pain and predation.

Chronic pain is neither something that a cat must learn to accept, nor is it only found in older cats. Dental disease can occur at any age. A previous injury or congenital abnormality may cause arthritis to develop early in a your cat’s life. A thorough examination by your veterinarian will reveal any physical signs of pain. These findings in conjunction with your observations regarding behavioral changes will help the doctor to fully assess the situation and make treatment recommendations. Oral pain can usually be resolved with professional dental care and follow-up home treatment. Arthritis can be managed in many ways. Your doctor can tailor a pain management program that will be best for your cat. It is possible to minimize pain in your cat’s life.

Dr Kathleen Keefe Ternes

Dr. Kathleen Keefe Ternes grew up in western Massachusetts. She received an undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1974; a BS degree in 1978 and a DVM in 1979 from Michigan State University. Dr. Keefe Ternes returned home to New England in April 1980. In 1984, she achieved one of her professional goals by opening The Feline Hospital in Salem, MA. . Dr. Keefe Ternes, a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP), initially certified as a companion animal specialist in 1990. She became certified as a feline specialist in 2000 and recertified in 2010. Dr. Keefe Ternes is a member of AAFP, the AVMA, the MVMA, and her local organization, the Veterinary Association of the North Shore (VANS). Her involvement in organized medicine includes having been a past president of VANS and current member of the board of directors. She is also a case reviewer for the ABVP and recently joined the Feline Welfare Committee of the AAFP.

Dr. Keefe Ternes lives in Salem with her husband and two college age daughters. Her two senior cats Toby and Petunia keep her on her toes medically.

The Feline Hospital
81 Webb St
Salem, MA 01970

Phone: 978-744-8020
Email: thefelinehospital@gmail.com

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