GENERAL BREED INFO

Cat Breeds with Big Ears: SETI Radars that Purr

cat with big ears
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Compared to the fluffy tails, cushy paw pads, and cute noses, a cat’s ears are a relatively unsung hero—but you’ll quickly notice how charming they are. Soft to the touch and finer than suede, the ears are so irresistible that even the most composed cat owners can’t stop themselves from touching them from time to time. If you’re one of those cat owners who are obsessed with kitty ears, you’ll definitely enjoy finding out more about cat breeds with big ears.

Some breeds were purposely made to augment certain physical traits like ear size, head shape, or a specific coat type, but others are just naturally unusual. In fact, big ears are very common among the wild cats, especially those living in warm climates. Predators need keen senses and when it comes to hearing, the bigger the receiver, the better. This is probably why many people say that cats with big ears look a bit wild.

In this article, we’re going to give you a comprehensive list of cat breeds that have disproportionately large ears. We are also going to tell you a couple of fun facts about the structure of cat ears and the functions they serve. You might be quite surprised with some of them, as nature decided to equip the cat with a multitool packed in a neat and cute set of ears.

Interesting Facts about Cat Ears

cat's ear

First of all, let’s discuss the function and structure of feline ears. Firstly, there is an obvious function—hearing.

  • The feline hearing is incredibly keen; they can hear sounds with frequencies up to 64 kHz, which is about an octave above the range of dogs!

  • On top of that, cats can rotate their ears independently to accurately pinpoint the source of sound which provides them with incredible precision during hunting. This is where the pinna (or as we call it, the adorable cat ears) plays a very important role. Pinna amplifies the sound, collects it, and sends it toward the inner ear. Nothing goes unnoticed by cats because of their superb hearing apparatus.

  • Another function of the ears is to dissipate excess heat. This is very important for cats living in the desert climate and areas with very hot summers, since cats don’t have sweat glands.

  • We all know that cats always land on their feet (or least proverbially), but did you know that the organ responsible for maintaining balance is placed inside the ear? This organ is called vestibule, and it consists of parts that are filled with a liquid which tells the brain what direction and position the head is in. It is a very precise system that humans have too, but combined with the feline flexible spine, the tail made for balancing, and four strong legs, cats are definitely the masters of acrobatics.

  • Have you ever noticed that small pouch on the outer side of your cat’s ear? This mysterious accessory even has a name; it’s called Henry’s Pocket. No one really knows the function of this pouch, but it has been theorized that it reinforces the ear during the rotation, or that it filters and augments the high pitch sound even more by attenuating low pitch sound which cats don’t need for hunting.

  • The hairs in the ears also serve as resonators and dust filters, just to make those perfect ears neat and clean at all times. This is why those hairs should not be trimmed or removed unless your vet instructed you so.

All in all, cat ears are an amazing apparatus, and we must admit, this leaves us a bit jealous.

10 Cat Breeds with Big Ears

In this section, we will introduce you to the breeds notorious for their huge ears. Some of them are absolutely adorable, some look like living SETI antennas just waiting to be contacted by aliens, while others look like aliens themselves.

No matter the build, coat type (or lack thereof), and character, all of these breeds have enormous ears.

#1: Abyssinian

Abyssinian cat

This is probably the most intelligent cat breed out there. Abyssinia is another name for the Ethiopian Empire, nowadays known just as Ethiopia. Europeans believed that this breed originated from Abyssinia, but DNA results showed that they are probably from South-East Asia.

This confusion is quite understandable because the Abyssinian breed is very old, and was popular even in ancient times, which means that the cute Abbys traveled far.

These big-eared treasured cats are very active and curious, so make sure to cat proof your apartment and provide them with lots of toys. As agile and rambunctious as they are, Abbys don’t make the best lap cats out there, but they will gladly do tricks and “help” around the house if properly motivated.

These cats are often too smart for their own good, meaning that opening doors, turning lights on and off, and sneaking into the weirdest of places are all normal, everyday activities.

#2: Sphynx

 Sphynx cat

The world’s most popular alien, the Sphynx is a nudist of the cat world. This is also the first hairless breed in the world, with hairlessness being a result of a natural mutation. Responsible breeders and breed enthusiast have put in a lot of work into this kitty over the past decades, making it genetically healthy and stable.

There is a very persistent myth about hairless cats being hypoallergenic. This is not true, but at least you won’t have to vacuum as much as you would with a normal cat.

Sphynxes are very intelligent, loving, and extrovert cats that love people and attention. A member of this breed would be a perfect host at a cafe or as a representative of a big family. They are awesome companions but do need a bit more care than an average cat. Baths, wrinkle cleaning, and sunscreen are a must for this breed.

#3: Cornish Rex

Cornish Rex

Lean, long-legged, and gracious—the Cornish Rex cats are truly supermodels of the feline world. And they are curly. This is the result of a natural mutation that happened to one of the kittens of a barn cat in Britain, where it all began.

Since this mutation made them lose the outer layer of the coat, Cornishes are very soft to the touch and don’t require a lot of grooming. In fact, the only grooming recommended for this breed is brushing the fur with your hands and the occasional baths, because combs, brushes, and other common product might damage the gentle hairs.

This is a high energy breed that needs a lot of space to run and mental stimulation, so we don’t recommend a Cornish to people who live alone in small apartments and/or work long hours. They are the happiest in big families which can keep up with their energy level.

#4: Devon Rex

Devon Rex

Also known as the Elf Cat because of the huge ears, Devon Rex cats are curly and plush. They are from Britain just like the Cornish Rex breed, but these two curly divas are not related.

Devon Rex cats are very mischievous and sneaky cats that like to prank their humans by stealing food, jewelry, and even clothing. If you have a good sense of humor, this is the cat for you.

If you like animals that know how to behave and have a royal attitude…maybe try some other breed, because living with a Devon will get you on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

When it comes to grooming, they are basically the same as Cornishes, but don’t forget to clean their humongous ears at least once a week.

#5: Ashera

Ashera cat

This is the most expensive and rare cat breed in the world! It is a mix of a domestic cat, African Serval, and the Asian Leopard cat. It looks so wild and rough that most people call it the “house leopard.”

Just like its wild ancestors, the Ashera has huge ears, a slim and muscular build, and a long tail. They are also extremely big; an adult Ashera can weigh up to 25 lbs and be more than 4 feet long!

Big, strong, and very active, these kitties need a lot of space and exercise to stay happy and well behaved—preferably a closed yard and a running wheel.

Ashera cats are truly something else, but beware who you’re buying from because there is only a handful of registered breeders in the world.

#6: Ocicat

Ocicat

Spots, inquisitive eyes, and enormous ears? This is an Ocicat, and if you’re thinking this kitty is a wild hybrid, you’re wrong. This is a 100% domestic cat with no wild ancestry. The breed was “made” by humans but not what was anticipated.

In fact, the breeder who crossed a Siamese with an Abyssinian actually wanted the color points of the first with the grace of the latter. Needless to say, what came out of the mix was quite a surprise.

The spotted beauty immediately gained popularity, and the lineage got its own name, inspired by the wild Ocelot. These cats are big, strong, and very sociable, so a big family with a lot of time for playing and chasing would be a perfect environment for the Ocicat.

#7: Oriental

Oriental kitten

And now for the classic. This is one of the most popular cat breeds, beloved in the Old World and the New. Orientals come in all colors and patterns, but you can immediately recognize them by the triangular shape of the head and the huge, oval-shaped ears.

They are also famous for their chattiness and livelihood. The personality of Orientals vary greatly because they have a large and healthy gene pool, but all of them are very extroverted, love being around people and other animals, and will always be by your side.

People who own Orientals alongside dogs have said that their cats insist on joining the dog on walks, so be prepared to buy an extra leash. They are intelligent, empathetic, and a bit needy. Orientals are a very healthy breed and live for a long time. If you think you can handle twenty years of constant conversations with a cat, go for this breed.

#8: Savannah

Savannah cat

Another wild looking domestic cat, the Savannah is the largest of all home fluffs, weighing up to an amazing 30 lbs! These cats are also amazing jumpers and agile runners, meaning that they need a lot of open space to roam and play.

Savannahs were made in the 90s when a breeder crossed the Serval with a domestic cat. The cross can be a bit problematic though, because some experts do not recognize them as a domestic breed.

While this discussion is still an open topic and the legality of owning this cat can give you a headache depending on where you live, it’s important to understand that these beauties really have a lot of wild genes and owning one is a completely different experience from what you had with regular domestic cats.

Savannahs are also very vocal, have a strong prey drive, and need plenty of exercises daily to keep their wild side in check.

#9: Singapura

Singapura cat

The fact that this is the smallest of all breeds doesn’t mean the ears followed the general trend. Anyway, this is a small cat with a big personality and a lot to say.

Singapuras are very vocal and will defend their opinion with a lot of meowing, so you might easily find yourself in a heated argument with your cat. We assure you it’s not crazy at all because Singapuras love to have a conversation and will drag you into one before you even realize it.

They are very loving, happiest as members of big families, and know how to handle children.

#10: Siamese

Siamese cat

The oldest breed of domestic cats comes from Thailand, previously known as Siam. Who doesn’t know about this iconic breed, really? They have been portrayed in so many paintings, movies, and pieces of literature that most people think of a Siamese when a purebred cat is in question.

Extremely intelligent and interactive, the Siamese are cats which love people, family life, and a busy lifestyle. As a bonus, they will tell you everything about their day. Every day. And if you don’t listen, they’ll just talk louder.

Seriously, if you’re not a fan of constant meowing, don’t adopt a Siamese. But if you do like someone to talk to, make sure to give your Siamese a lot of love and attention because they can get really grumpy if neglected.

Wrap Up

cats with big ears

Unusual looking cats have a special place in our hearts. Every cat owner knows that there is nothing more rewarding than rubbing soft kitty ears, if your fluffy friend allows it, of course. But be aware that huge ears mean nothing will go unnoticed, especially when you are opening the fridge.

We hope you enjoyed the article and possibly found inspiration for getting a new fluffy friend. Just remember that every cat has a unique personality and looks are just a plus. No matter how much you like the aesthetics of a certain breed, make sure that the behavior, energy levels, and health of the breed match your lifestyle and family situation.

Which of the big-eared breeds above would you like to adopt and take home with you? Do you know of other big-eared breeds we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments section below. Next, check out our article on how to clean cat ears, so you’ll be prepared when you finally adopt a big-eared cat.

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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