Can Cats Hear Dog Whistles?

Dog whistles, otherwise known as silencers, are used commonly when trying to train dogs. They emit a very high frequency sound which humans cannot hear, but because a dog has a very sensitive and increased sense of hearing – they can.

Can Cats Hear Dog Whistles

The thing is, cats also have an incredible ability to hear high sound frequencies and their hearing is much better than a human’s too. So it’s logical to question if this training tool can also be heard by felines as well as canines. 

This guide will explore if a cat can hear dog whistles and whether this is bad for them, along with other helpful pieces of information. 

Can They Hear The Silent Whistle?

Cats actually have even better hearing than a dog does and therefore the frequency of the silent dog whistle is certainly within their range. 

Experts have tried these whistles around cats, and although they can likely hear the sound, it does not seem to bother a cat in any way – however, cats are great at masking their feelings of discomfort, so it’s not clear if the sound annoys them or not. 

What’s The Point Of This Type Of Whistle?

The general idea behind this whistle is to discourage bad behavior with dogs by “punishing” them. Dogs hate the sound that comes from this whistle, and they will let you know how much they hate it. 

There are similar whistles on the market for cats which supposedly are used to train a cat’s behavior, but there is little evidence that these work – more to the point, it’s difficult to get a cat to do something they don’t want to do anyway!

Due to the inhumane uses of these whistles, most pet lovers and pet experts will avoid these whistles and try to determine why a pet is exhibiting bad behavior in the first place, then work from there. 

Cat Hearing

Cats are nature’s perfect hunters. They have super senses when compared with humans and even some other animals. One of their best assets is their hearing. 

They have the ability to rotate their ears and this allows them to listen to two areas at once – this sort of ability is perfect for them when they’re hunting, as they can choose to listen to multiple potential prey or even one predator and their prey. 

They can detect things with their hearing far away and very close by. This is partially why their species has survived for so long. 

In terms of their hearing frequency, they can hear up to 64 kHz whereas we can only hear up to around 20 kHz.

Their ultrasonic range is far superior to ours but also far superior to dogs – they can hear lower and higher frequencies when compared to their canine companions. 

The fact that they can hear within the range of a dog whistle is what is intriguing.

They certainly have the ability to hear these sounds which are unpleasant to a dog, but most people who have tried and tested these near cats have reported no change in the cat’s behavior or mood.

Dogs will normally stop barking (if they are) and try to cover their ears with their paws, or they will yelp with pain if a whistle is used. They are vocal when they are upset or in pain, and this is likely due to years of integrating with humans who will assist them. 

However, cats do not usually let their feelings known, unless they are of a specific breed. Although we can typically tell if our feline friends are pleased or content, it’s difficult to know if they are unhappy. 

Normally, we could try to interpret their cat tail language or other body language, but when it comes to these dog whistles – it seems they do not move or change at all. Some animal experts have likened this to when cats are injured in the wild, they will not vocalize their pain, possibly to remain stealthy. 

Are There Sounds That Cats Hate?

Can Cats Hear Dog Whistles

It’s difficult to tell if there are specific things that a cat hates hearing. What we do know however, is that cats are terrified of loud noises. This is possibly a survival instinct as loud noises are attributed to things like gunshots, cars or even other predators. 

As cats ears are so sensitive, they can hear ultrasonic sounds that we may not be aware of in the household.

Some cat owners have reported that their fluorescent lighting is often looked at when switched on by the cat, with what appears to be discomfort.

Although we cannot be sure if the cat is reacting to the high frequency noise or whether they are simply mesmerized by the lighting (like Christmas tree lights!) is unclear, but maybe we will find out one day!

The likelihood is that cats are probably not fond of these sounds, so it’s best not to test it around them just to be sure and keep your cat happy. 

How Would You Train Your Dog/Cat Without A Whistle?

Reinforcing negative behavior with punishment, although it does work to an extent, is not sustainable and is not morally or ethically correct. 

The best thing to do is to assess why your dog or cat is doing the things they are doing and try to understand. If, for example, your dog continues to bark outside in the yard all day – they’re probably restless.

You could walk or exercise your dog more often, and you may find that they stop barking. This logic applies to most animal behaviors, and it’s the best thing you can do to try to get them to behave better. 

The Bottom Line

Although cats can likely hear a dog whistle, it is not clear whether they are bothered by the sound or not – however, you probably shouldn’t use it around them, in case they find it harmful. 

Courtney Trent
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