What Are the Small Pockets on Your Cat’s Ear?


A cat’s sense of hearing is much better than that of a human. A human ear can hear sounds of very low frequency of 20 Hertz to a very high frequency of 20,000 Hertz. Cats’s hearing is about the same on the low end, but they can hear high pitched sounds of up to 100,000 Hertz. Everything about a cat’s ear is designed by nature to aid her in hunting, and that includes the ability swivel her ears. But what is the purpose of those small pockets on the side of your cat’s ear?

Anatomy of the feline ear

Your cat’s ear, just like a human ear, has three main parts: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. The outer ear is made up of the pinna, which is the large triangular part, and the ear canal, which normally has few hairs and is white or pink in color. The middle ear is contained in a small bony pocket at the base of the skull and can’t be seen from the outside. The inner ear contains the actual organ of hearing (organ of Corti). This is where sound waves transmitted through the middle ear are converted to nerve impulses that are sent to the brain. The inner ear also contains three small fluid-filled canals set at angles to each other that are responsible for the sense of balance.


Henry’s Pockets

As we know, cats are mysterious creatures, and the small pockets on the side of your cat’s ear, also known as “Henry’s Pockets,” are one of those mysteries nobody seems to quite understand. They are a normal part of a cat’s ear anatomy, but seem to have no known function. One theory, according to Wikipedia, is that the pockets  aid in the detection of high-pitched sounds by attenuating lower pitches, especially when the ear is angled. So perhaps these pockets help your cat hear the mouse before she can smell or see it.

Embrace banner with seal

12 Comments on What Are the Small Pockets on Your Cat’s Ear?

  1. Peg Long
    May 21, 2019 at 11:21 pm (7 months ago)

    I’m told that’s where they keep their secrets…

    • Ingrid
      May 22, 2019 at 5:17 am (7 months ago)

      I love that, Peg! 🙂

  2. mehitabel
    December 11, 2017 at 4:37 pm (2 years ago)

    no….no…no….they’re little parachutes that stabilize the head at high speed.

  3. Katherine Coleman
    April 1, 2017 at 10:09 am (3 years ago)

    I always thought they were like human earlobes. Not sure our lobes have any function other than to pierce for adornment:)

  4. Random Felines
    March 22, 2017 at 11:44 am (3 years ago)

    mom is pretty sure we have them so she can mess even MORE with our ears

  5. Bobbi
    March 22, 2017 at 11:38 am (3 years ago)

    I just thought it was a place to put my finger tip into :-).

    • Mandy
      April 7, 2017 at 3:03 pm (3 years ago)

      Omg! Me too!

  6. Gabby The Tabby
    March 22, 2017 at 10:24 am (3 years ago)

    That’s very interesting! I’ve often wondered about Gabby’s little ear pockets. You know, there’s a lot about cats we don’t know. Like purring! We don’t know how they do it, why they do it, or what purpose it serves. The only thing we do know is some of the times when they do it: When they’re stressed, nervous, scared, injured, or content. But the reasoning still escapes us.

    As far as cat anatomy, did you know that cats see more on the ultraviolet spectrum than we do? Cats can see dry urine as though it were under a black light, which enables them to track and trail prey.

  7. Cat Fleming
    March 22, 2017 at 8:25 am (3 years ago)

    I’m glad you wrote this, I have wondered at times what they were for, just never thought to look it up in Wikipedia. Lol

  8. Janine
    March 22, 2017 at 8:18 am (3 years ago)

    This is a very interesting post. I have never thought twice about the little side pockets, but now I feel I need to know more.

    • Ingrid
      March 23, 2017 at 5:38 am (3 years ago)

      Cats are fascinating, aren’t they?

  9. Margaret
    March 22, 2017 at 4:05 am (3 years ago)

    A really fascinating article, never even thought about such things; wonder who “Henry” was to have pockets named after him!


Leave a comment

First time visitors: please read our Comment Guidelines.