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I have two 15-year-old black cats. They're the most timid little things ever. My brother plays his acoustic drum set at least once a week, and the loudness is incredible no matter where I go in the house.

When he's playing and I'm around my cats, I like to think I can tell there are some adverse effects the loudness has on them and their hearing. They seem jumpy and wide-eyed. Note that acoustic drums in a house that doesn't have a lot of big open spaces (hallways, stairwells, etc.) can create piercing noises that are rough even on my ears.

So can any of this hurt or damage my cats' hearing? Are there any other effects this might have on my cats?

6 Answers 6

1

You ever see those sound rooms that have cones of foam on the walls and ceiling to deaden sound? You could make something like that for them - a box with foam walls that would be much quieter. You might want to make one for yourself if loud drums play all the time!

2
  • Hm. Turn the drum-booth idea inside out, and give the cats a place to get away from the racket. Not a bad idea. (Better idea: Convert the offender to an electronic drum kit and make ;em practice at low volume or thru headphones and a butt-kicker sub-driver.)
    – keshlam
    Sep 25, 2015 at 3:49
  • Post offers solution to the problem but does not answer the technical part of the question.
    – lila
    May 16, 2021 at 0:08
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Human hearing ranges from ~50 Hz to ~20,000 Hz (the upper range limits decreases a lot with age - ref) while cat's hearing ranges from ~50 Hz to ~80,000 Hz (for a 70 dB SPL sound stimulus - ref). Drums sounds have a broad frequency range but most of the sound energy is below ~20,000 Hz (ref1, ref2, ref3).

It means that:

  1. Everything you hear will be heard be a cat. There is no reason for cat's ears not to be damaged with loud and long sounds as it is the case with human's ears; both are terrestrial mammals and are relatively similar to each other.

  2. Cat hears extra high-frequencies that you cannot hear. Then a drum sound that you can hear may be even more disconfortable for a cat if the drum sound includes high-pitch sounds. For instance, 40% of the acoustic energy of a crash cymbal is above 20,000 Hz (ref), which you can't hear, but the cat could.

There are probably other effects than damaging ears, as it creates some stress to the nervous system (fatigue, etc). I don't have any reference to be sure about this for cats, but I'd say that there is no reason for not creating additional heath issues as in humans.

The sound perception of cats and humans are probably different, but globally, I think it is not a good idea for their ears if you feel it is not good for yours. In addition, while you know the origin of the sound (a nice drumkit), this may create more stress to cats who may interpret it as a danger, especially if they cannot escape the house.

0

The same effects as on humans: progressive hearing damage if too loud. Build your brother a drum booth?

3
  • I'd love to, but there isn't enough space or equipment. Does the sound have any other effects on my cats besides potential hearing damage?
    – Adam
    Sep 20, 2015 at 20:17
  • Possible stress, with whatever effects that may have. Is there anywhere in the house where they're free to get away from the noise? I've got a basement workshop which can get loud, but the cats can go well away from it, and I am considering more acoustic insulation.
    – keshlam
    Sep 20, 2015 at 20:45
  • 1
    Downv*ted for low quality (extremely short length), it makes the answer feel a bit dismissive and disappointing, please consider adding some substance or deleting it altogether; thanks.
    – lila
    May 15, 2021 at 2:40
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Hearing range of cats is between 48Hz to 85kHz, while they are most sensitive to 300Hz to 32kHz. This means that while they can hear sounds with frequencies less than 300Hz, depending on the cat and age, they don't register it with full amplitude.

Range of fundamental frequencies of drums is stated as 50Hz-250Hz. This falls out of cats' sensitivity range, yet drums are loud enough to have very loud harmonics. The bottom line is that even though cat hearing is much more developed than ours, they probably don't hear drums as loud as us.

Cats are excellent predators and like any successful predator, they can filter out the background, however loud the background is. I have seen cats responding to very short and silent whistles midst of Istanbul traffic, with a low frequency rumble filled with very high frequency sirens and horns. Therefore, I would expect cats to get used to the drum sounds as time passes and register them as background noise. This depends on the cat as well, more adaptable cats, especially if they are young, will probably get used to the drums.

This being said, if you cannot stand the drums without earplugs, it is reasonable to assume that cats will suffer equally. I suggest you to take your cats to another roo where you could survive without earplugs.

I hope this helps.

-1

Cats have a 15% higher hearing than humans. What sounds loud to us is very loud to cats' sensitive ears. This can lead to ear drum ruptures. When your brother is playing the drums,you can take the cats out or distract them with treats.

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  • 2
    Downv*ted for short length of the post and lack of references, I think that sense of hearing is too complex to make such one-dimensional percentage comparison that "cats have 15% higher hearing than humans", to begin with, cats are able to hear much wider range of frequencies than humans on top of having more acute sense of hearing; please consider improving this answer thanks.
    – lila
    May 16, 2021 at 0:11
-2

The advantage of cats over dogs are the higher sense of intelligence, especially when it comes to their own well-being. Cats always hold their priorities much higher than they hold their master's.

As much as I hate to admit it, cats are selfish beings, when compared to dogs. Having said that, as soon as they realize a certain environment is unsuitable for them, or may hold a potential danger to them, they leave. So when the cats feel that the drum noise is of harm to them, they will leave the immediate area of the noise and sit somewhere far enough to minimize any danger the sound may present to their hearing. Cats take care of themselves that way and are far more independent than dogs.

A cat's hearing is an essence to its welfare. They rely a lot on their listening. So, any noise that blocks their senses from working properly will leave them in a state of unrest and panic. They will leave the room immediately. So even if there is a danger to their hearing capabilities, or not, they will leave the premises to a quieter area.

Dogs, on the other hand, prefer to sit with its master; even if the environment in not favourable to them. They may sit with you, hearing the loud noise and may be open to a hearing issue caused by loud noises, much unlike cats.

Bottom Line: The cats will take care of themselves if the noise is too high. They will leave and return when the sound is gone. You need not worry about these furry little masterminds. When it comes to their own welfare, there isn't any species of animal that isn't this smart.

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  • That's very interesting. The problem is that my cats don't really have a quiet place to run off to when the drums are being played though because the noise is so loud. They seem to just accept the noise and sit in place wherever they are.
    – Adam
    May 19, 2016 at 16:52

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