Cats have exceptionally keen hearing and can suffer discomfort and pain from extremely loud noises. Blocking the sound with foam ear plugs or cotton balls is an effective strategy for helping cats avoid trauma from noise.
While heredity is the number one factor for deafness in cats, prolonged exposure to loud noises and sounds is second. Thunderstorms, gunshots, firecrackers, airplane engines and loud music can frighten cats and result in an ongoing phobia.
The ear of a cat can pick up noises at much higher frequencies than that of a dog. Cats also can distinguish minute variations in sound at distances four to five times greater than a human.
Effects of Airplane Noise
Airplane cabins can register 72 to 86 decibels of noise (60 decibels represents a normal conversation). Cats that are shipped across country on an airplane can experience extreme pain and discomfort from the excessive noise of the engines.
Petting or consoling a cat frightened by a loud noise only reinforces the negative behavior. Instead, try to prevent the cat from hearing the noise as much as possible.
Ear plugs designed specifically for cats can be difficult to find; however, you can use soft foam ear plugs made for children, available at drugstores or specialty websites, or cotton balls. Gently insert the ear plug or a regular cotton ball just inside the cat's ear to protect them from loud noises.
- cat image by nutech21 from Fotolia.com