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Why Do Cats Put Their Ears Back?

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Kyle Davis
Kyle Davis
Be exclusive, Be Devine, Be yourself.

Do you ever wonder why your kitty sometimes puts her ears back? It can be a bit of a mystery, can’t it? Well, wonder no more! We’re here to tell you all about why cats put their ears back. Turns out, there are quite a few reasons why your cat might do this – from being afraid or stressed to simply enjoying some peace and quiet. Keep reading to learn more!

10 Reasons Why Cats Put Their Ears Back

By understanding how our feline friends use their ears as interpretive devices, we can unlock secrets of cat behavior that otherwise would go unnoticed by most pet owners! Read on as we explore 10 possible reasons that could explain why your cat may put his/her ears back!

#1 – They Are Nervous

Cats often put their ears back when they are feeling intimidated or nervous. This is a sign that the cat feels threatened, either by another animal or person. This can be very serious, especially if the threat doesn’t go away soon enough.

By putting their ears flat to the head, cats are trying to make themselves as small as possible in order to avoid a fight or aggression that may be coming their way. While this may look cute, it’s important to take good care of cats so that they don’t feel threatened or scared in their environment. It’s best for them to feel safe and secure at all times!

Why Do Cats Put Their Ears Back?

#2 – They’re About To Get The Zoomies

Most cat owners are familiar with the phenomenon of the zoomies– when their furry friend suddenly runs around at full speed in a random, seemingly uncontrollable burst of energy. The excitement can come out of nowhere and may be strange to witness, but why do cats go through these episodes?

One theory why cats put their ears back during the zoomies is because they’re feeling particularly playful. Since cats have tall, broad ears that act as “antennas” and provide them with a wide field of hearing, pulling the ears back may help them improve their directional sense; offering them greater control while they get lost in all that zoomy joy.

#3 – They Are Afraid

Cats are mysterious animals and it often feels like they are completely hiding their thoughts and intentions. One thing we can observe however is when cats put their ears back, why yes that’s right; they’re scared! Putting their ears back is a natural defence mechanism for cats to express their fear or lack of trust.

A fearful or uncomfortable cat may also flatten its body and tuck its tail, expose its belly to retreat from further conflict, or crouch down as though ready to pounce in case of a quick escape. It’s best to give cats time and space when observed in such states and always provide a safe environment to calm them down. Cats will eventually come around on their own time!

Why Do Cats Put Their Ears Back?

#4 – They Are Unwell

Cats communicate in a variety of ways, and one is by the positioning of their ears. If a cat puts its ears back, it usually means that the animal is feeling unwell or scared. This is why it’s important to monitor a pet cat’s posture and stance so that any serious changes can be identified quickly and proper medical attention provided.

A cat that suddenly puts its ears back could be suffering from an underlying medical problem, or it might have encountered an unfamiliar situation or person that scared them. It’s always important to pay close attentions to cats’ body language and react accordingly before they become more stressed out.

#5 – They Have An Ear Infection

It can be alarming to see a cat with their ears flattened back against their head, as this may be a sign of an ear infection. Ear infections, unfortunately, are quite common in cats and can be caused by mites, bacteria, or fungal overgrowth.

The catt’s reaction of flattening their ears back is actually an act of self-help – flattening their ears’ position tightens the skin around the base of the ear canal to relieve itchiness and minimize pain from inflammation. Cats with ear infections should be seen by a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. Ignoring symptoms could potentially result in further complications such as hearing loss.

#6 – They Have Ear Mites

Cats can contract ear mites, a type of parasite that invades and feeds on the wax in their ears. When cats have ear mites, it is often why they put their ears back – to relieve the itchiness and discomfort caused by these parasites. With symptoms like head shaking, scratching at the ears, and discoloration of the skin around the ears, it is important to quickly address any issue with a pet’s ears as soon as possible.

If left untreated, a pet may experience long-term and even permanent damage to their hearing or balance. Additionally, depending on how severe the infestation is, over-the-counter or prescription treatments may be necessary to rid your cat of ear mites and restore their overall wellbeing.

#7 – They Have A Polyp

A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue found in the colon, and it can be found in cats as well. So why do cats often put their ears back when they have a polyp? Well, when a cat has a polyp, their intestine tract becomes very sensitive and uncomfortable.

By putting their ears back, cats are trying to relax their abdominal muscles, allowing them to find some relief from the discomfort that comes with a polyp. It also serves as an evolutionary way for cats to protect themselves; by alerting any potential predators that they are aware of its presence and helping them back off until they feel safe again.

Why Do Cats Put Their Ears Back?

#8 – There Is A Loud Sound or Wind

Loud sounds or strong winds can be startling for animals, particularly cats. If you’ve ever seen a cat with their ears back and eyes wide open when there’s a sudden noise, you know why. It is the animal’s way of bracing itself from whatever that loud sound might be.

A cat is instinctively aware that potential danger could be lurking and will reflexively put its ears back in order to minimize the chance that something might hear it over the noise. This unconscious reaction is why cats put their ears back when they’re scared; instinctively protecting themselves from what could be lurking around the corner.

#9 – They Are Trying To Locate A Sound

Have you ever watched a cat searching for something it heard? You may have noticed the telltale sign of its ears drawn back tightly against its head in an effort to better localize the sound. Scientists believe cats may instinctively do this because it allows their ears to collect sound from different directions and focus on which direction the noise is coming from more precisely.

With this enhanced ability, cats are better able to localize sounds, evaluate their environment, protect themselves, and find food sources. Cats may also be able to identify certain frequencies or types of sounds better by flattening their ears back; this helps them better home in on prey or threats that have unique auditory signatures. We may never know why cats locate sound in such a fascinating way, but we can certainly enjoy watching them practice it!

Why Do Cats Put Their Ears Back?

#10 – They Are Content

Cats are known for their content, loving nature and why do cats put their ears back? They generally show contentment by twitching the ends of their ear slightly and then settling them back into a relaxed position. This indicates that a cat is feeling delighted or content with whatever is going on around it.

Sometimes this can also mean that a cat is feeling safe and secure – but always take caution when reading your cats signals. Even though cats may appear to be in the best of moods, they can still surprise us with unexpected behaviours, so it’s important to be aware of why they may be putting their ears back at any given time.

How Can I Tell Why My Cat’s Ears Are Back?

Understanding your cat’s body language is an important way to learn why its ears are back. Cats communicate with a variety of facial expressions, movements, and sounds. When the ears are flattened against the head, it usually means that your cat is fearful or aggressive; this could be in response to something it senses as a threat.

On the other hand, if the ears are perked up and pointing forward, your cat may just be curious or attentive toward its environment. Regardless, when observing your feline friend’s behaviors and postures, pay attention to its tail – whether it’s swishing or pointed and just observe the cat’s overall reaction to you and its environment. Doing so will help you better understand why the ears may be back.


Cats are fascinating creatures, and their ears are just one example of the many ways they communicate with us. If you’re wondering why your cat’s ears are back, it could be due to a variety of factors including fear, anger, or simply being curious. The next time you see your cat’s ears back, take a moment to think about what might be causing it and how you can best respond.

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