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A Calico Cornish Rex cat

All the better to hear toys with! From wild big cats to the furry feline friend in your home, a cat’s ears are a big part of how they take in information about the world around them. In the wild, big cats listen for prey, while smaller wild cats keep an ear out for predators. At home, this is usually the crinkle of a treat bag, bells on a favorite toy, or their favorite human’s footsteps. Learn more about these ten cats with big ears that’ll be sure to hear you coming!

1. Siamese

Siamese cats are known as one of the oldest cat breeds, and they have many unforgettable traits, such as their striking blue eyes. Another feature is their characteristic big ears. Their oversized ears serve them well — as any Siamese parent can tell you, these chatty cats will follow you around, emitting a wide range of sounds and engaging with you when you talk back. Affectionate, intelligent, and social, Siamese make good choices for a family.

A Siamese cat with big ears

Facts about the Siamese

  • Intelligence — High
  • Vocalizations — Frequent and loud
  • Life span — 13-15 years

2. Sphynx

While the near-hairless body stands out most with the sphynx cat breed, their oversized ears, long legs, and playful personality are also notable. This breed results from a genetic mutation followed by selective breeding in North America. They aren’t overly common, but as any sphynx cat parent can tell you, this breed is well worth the wait. It’s important to remember that the sphynx isn’t actually a hairless cat. These cats with a unique appearance actually have a fine downy coat similar to peach skin.

Since sphynx cats don't have the protection of fur in regards to their skin, they can be prone to sunburn. So, if a sphynx cat enjoys basking in the sun, it is important that a pet-safe sunscreen is applied. This protection may also help play a role in reducing some skin cancers as well from sun bathing.

Dr. Dwight Alleyne
A Sphynx cat with big ears

Facts about the sphynx

  • Intelligence — High
  • Vocalizations — Frequent and loud
  • Life span — 8-15 years

3. Savannah

A relatively newer breed first developed in 1986, the Savannah cat is a hybrid of domestic cats and servals. This energetic, athletic cat breed gets numerous features from their serval parentage, like their ears, long legs, vocalizations, and energy. Like other newer hybrid breeds, these cats need plenty of enrichment and can be on the larger side. Pet parents interested in a Savannah should consider how much time they can spend with them doing dedicated activities like walks and fetch, as well as the fact that they are one of the most expensive cat breeds.

For a calmer Savannah, look for ones that are farther from their serval lineage. Also, consider whether or not it’s legal to have a Savannah in your state.

Many colleagues would be hesitant to see hybrid cats regardless of their lineage. The main reason is due to the increased chances of aggression. Veterinarians who are most comfortable with these hybrid breeds may include exotic or feline only professionals.

Dr. Dwight Alleyne
A Savannah cat with big ears

Facts about the Savannah

  • Intelligence — High
  • Vocalizations — Frequent and diverse
  • Life span — 12-15+ years

4. Chausie

Chausie cats have an exotic look, and for a good reason. This is an ancient breed that is a hybrid of the jungle cat and domestic cats. While this hybrid initially happened naturally in ancient Egypt, today, the chausie is a breed developed from Abyssians and domestic shorthair cats. Owners get the look of an exotic cat — including some impressive larger ears — with the benefit of an affectionate personality and minimal shedding.

A Chausie cat with big ears

Photo by Wilczakrew (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Facts about the chausie

  • Intelligence — High
  • Vocalizations — Average
  • Life span — 10-15 years

5. Balinese

If you love Siamese and long-haired cats, the Balinese might be perfect for you. More or less a long-haired version of the Siamese, the Balinese started unexpectedly. In the 1940s, a genetic mutation caused kittens in a Siamese litter to have long hair. By the 1950s, breeding programs were underway to nurture the look. Thus, the Balinese breed was born. In addition to oversized ears and blue eyes, these intelligent and playful cats have plumed tails and are affectionate, energetic additions to any family.

A Balinese cat with big ears

Facts about the Balinese

  • Intelligence — High
  • Vocalizations — Average
  • Life span — 12-20 years

6. Cornish rex

A Cornish rex’s extra large ears are just one unusual feature of this relatively new cat breed. These cats of British origin have curly coats that require very little from their owners. But, it is important to note that they may sometimes require bathing due to their unique coats. Like other cat breeds, the Cornish rex is sensitive to temperature extremes and may feel warmer to the touch due to a lack of a top coat.

A Cornish rex cat with big ears

Facts about the Cornish rex

  • Intelligence — High
  • Vocalizations — Average to high
  • Life span — Up to 20 years

7. Devon rex

Also called the pixie cat, the Devon rex breed has a friendly temperament and a playful, vibrant personality as big as their ears. Like many other cat breeds, the Devon rex doesn’t need any extra attention as far as grooming goes. Still, as high energy, social cats, they do need plenty of playtime with the family, and at dinnertime, it’s best to keep an eye on this food-stealing ravenous eater. One important thing to note about this breed is that they may have a hereditary condition called Devon rex myopathy , which causes weakness in the head and neck muscles.

A Devon rex cat with big ears

Facts about the Devon rex

  • Intelligence — High
  • Vocalizations — Average
  • Life span — 9-15 years

8. Abyssinian

The Abyssinian cat (“Aby” for short) has large, long ears and a distinct graceful look. Some believe that they, along with the Egyptian mau, were owned by pharaohs, while others credit the British for breeding silver and brown tabbies to create the breed. Whether they have royal roots or English ones, these high-energy, intelligent cats are independent and easy to care for.

An Abyssinian cat with big ears

Facts about the Abyssinian

  • Intelligence — High
  • Vocalizations — Low
  • Life span — Up to 15 years

9. Oriental shorthair

This unique cat breed can have numerous coat combinations, but two features about them are distinct: their face and ears. Extra large ears — even compared to other cats on our list — accent an angular face and exaggerated features, including their almond-shaped eyes. One important thing about the Oriental shorthair is that this cat is more prone to separation anxiety than other breeds. It’s best to have a friend for them, like another Oriental shorthair or cat, especially if you don’t work from home.

Facts about the Oriental shorthair

  • Intelligence — High
  • Vocalizations — Extremely high and varied
  • Life span — Up to 15 years

10. Javanese

Also called a colorpoint longhair, the Javanese cat breed was originally a part of the Balinese cat breed. In 1986, these big-eared cats earned their breed name (which came from the island of Java), and, like their Balinese relatives, these cats are affectionate, energetic, and have silky coats with varied patterns. Additionally, part of the breed standard for the Javanese is their distinct blue eyes!

Facts about the Javanese

  • Intelligence — High
  • Vocalizations — High
  • Life span — 10+ years

Anatomy of a cat’s ears

Like us, cats have three parts to their ear: the outer ear, eardrum, and inner ear. And, just like us, you can only see the outer ear. But, the basic structure is where the similarities end. Cats have 32 muscles in each ear (compared to just six in humans), and can rotate each satellite-like ear independently. Additionally, they can hear sounds we can’t due to a longer, more tapered ear canal.

👉 The extra flap found on the back of the ear and towards the base is called Henry’s pocket, and no one is quite sure what it’s for. One theory is that this unique feature helps your cat’s ears move more easily.

Anatomy of a cat ear


Deafness and cats

Some cats are more prone to being deaf than others, and sometimes it has nothing to do with the breed. Some cats have hereditary conditions inherited from their parents, but research also shows a strong link between deafness and pigmentation . White dogs and cats, for example, are more likely to be deaf partially, in one ear, or both.