6 Cat Breeds With Short Ears

Cats have been around on Earth for approximately 10-12 million years. With about 40 extant species around the globe, these fascinating felines come in various sizes ranging from the tiny rusty-spotted cat to the well-known big cats that include tigers, lions, jaguars, and leopards. 

While there are 45 to 73 recognized cat breeds in the world, a variety of unique physical characteristics set each breed apart from the rest. There are some cat breeds that are particularly special, and one of the few things that set them apart is the length of their ears. 

We have compiled a list of the most well-known short-eared cat breeds and their unique characteristics. While short-eared cats are some of the cutest breeds of cats, we will run you down on how these cats acquired this feature and why it is not necessarily an advantageous trait to have. If you are a cat lover, then you might already be familiar with some of these popular breeds.

How Can You Tell A Cat Has Short Ears?

While the size and coat colors of different cat breeds are talked about most frequently, the ears of a cat are an incredibly distinctive characteristic of many felines. Modern domestic cats resemble their ancestors in many ways with their striped or spotted coats and large, lynx-like ears, but there are a few eccentric breeds that defy convention with their short and often folded ears.

While most cats on high alert are known to instantly raise their ears, the ears of short-eared cats often appear to fold backward and tuck into a fluffy coat. This makes the ears of these breeds appear even smaller. Their small and squished ears give these felines an incredibly adorable and distinct appearance, making them extremely popular amongst pet owners across the globe.

How Do Cats Hear?

Cat ears are fascinating structures that play a vital role in their ability to hear and navigate the world around them. Their ears are incredibly sensitive and can detect a wide range of frequencies as compared to humans. This enables cats to hear sounds that are too high-pitched for us to perceive. This proves to be particularly useful for felines while hunting prey and surviving in the wild.

Cat ears are also an essential part of their body language and depending on their different moods, their ears might be alert, pulled back, or lowered. Cats have 32 muscles in their ears and can rotate them up to 180 degrees which makes them extremely expressive. This allows you to easily be able to identify if the feline feels happy, angry, or scared.

What Causes Small Ears In Cats?

The size and shape of cat ears are determined by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some breeds of cats are known for having small ears because of selective breeding for specific physical traits. For instance, the Scottish Fold, Munchkin, and Highlander are breeds with naturally small ears whereas the American Curl has distinct curled ears.

The Scottish Fold breed, in particular, has a mutation in a gene that affects the growth and development of the cartilage present in their ear. This is the reason for their distinctive folded ears since the cartilage is not rigid enough to support their ears, giving them an owl-like appearance. Due to their genetic mutation, the Scottish fold cats have an increased tendency to develop painful, lifelong, and incurable diseases such as a type of arthritis at a young age.

In addition to genetic factors, some cats may develop smaller or differently shaped ears due to injury, disease, or other environmental factors. In such cases, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and plan appropriate treatment.

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As adorable as small ears are on a cat, it is crucial to know that selective breeding can result in potential health risks associated with certain physical traits. Understanding the factors that affect ear size and shape is vital for ensuring the health and welfare of cats as well as for selecting a cat breed that best suits your lifestyle and preferences.

Cat Breeds With Short Ears

Here are some of the most prominent cat breeds with short ears:

1. The Scottish Fold

Scottish Folds are one of the most popular cat breeds among cat owners across the world. They are best known for their distinctively cute and round faces, as well as, their soft, dense fur. These cats have flattened ears that fold forward and downward, giving them a look similar to that of an owl and making them appear smaller as compared to other breeds.

This rare feline breed was first found in Scotland in the 1960s at a farm near Coupar Angus in Perthshire. This cat owes its unique looks to a genetic mutation which is caused by an underlying defect in the formation of cartilage, which would normally retain the ears in a usual shape. 

The inherited cartilage defect (also known as Scottish Fold disease or Osteochondrodysplasia) is a dominant trait that causes other deformities throughout the body of a Scottish Fold. Serious abnormalities in joints and bone growth lead to arthritis, short, abnormally thick, and inflexible tails, spinal abnormalities, and short and stiff legs. While their tightly folded ears do not appear to be any more prone to infections than those of cats with upright ears, there is a great deal of controversy around these cats, mainly because of the variety of health issues that plague that breed. 

These cats usually have laid-back personalities and are often described as calm, social, and affectionate. They form close bonds with their owners and do not like to be left alone for long. They are playful and curious by nature and despite their genetic mutation, this breed of cats can hear perfectly well, just like any other breed with pointed ears. 

2. American Curl

American Curl is a breed that originated back in the 1980s and has since gained traction for its tufted ears and charming personality. These cats have ears that curl backward, which is a unique and eye-catching feature as opposed to the forward arc in most other cats. The distinct shape of their ears occurred due to a spontaneous mutation that was then selectively bred. Since the cartilage in their ears is not developed correctly, their ears can be easily damaged. 

These cats are best known for their people-loving personality, silky fur, and striking facial expressions. American Curls are playful and social- they are often a crowd favorite with children and other pets. These cats are also highly intelligent, easy to train, and known to be quite adventurous.

3. Persian

The Persian cat breed is one of the oldest breeds known to man, with some of its first records dating back to 1684 BC. C. They are one of the most sought-after breeds in the world and are most well-known for their “squashed” faces. 

Persians have large expressive eyes and small ears with rounded tips which, when paired with their long-haired and fluffy coat, make their already small ears appear even smaller. These cats are affectionate, docile, and not very active. They are the perfect calm cat and can usually be found napping on the sofa or your lap instead of running around the house. The luscious fluff coat of a Persian requires daily brushing to prevent mating, and they also shed tons of hair around the house.

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4. Highlander

The highlander cat is a new experimental crossbreed between Desert Lynx and Jungle Curls. As a mixed breed, Highlander cats have curled ears similar to other breeds. What makes these cats stand out is that instead of their ears being pointed and upright, they are completely rounded and curl backward toward their skull.

These rare hybrid breeds also have other distinctive features like an unusually short and stubby tail, an extra toe on each paw (also known as polydactyl paws), and distinctive tufts of fur. Highlander cats often look quite exotic, or more so wild, because of their spotted coat colorations.

Despite their wild appearance, these cats are very domesticated. Much like their wild counterparts, these cats still love splashing in the water. Highlander cats are intelligent, incredibly athletic, and energetic. They are extremely friendly, sociable, affectionate, and perfect for homes with large families and lots of action.

5. Exotic Shorthair

The Exotic Shorthair is a breed of cat developed in the 1960s to be the short hair version of the Persian. Not only do these cats have a similar head shape, including shorter ears, doll eyes, and a smushed face but also are similar to the Persians in their temperament. These calm and docile cats were developed by crossing Persians with shorthair breeds, mainly the American Shorthair. The short coat and bigger head of this breed further accentuate their wide-set, slightly sloped forward short ears.

These cats are curious and playful but much like Persians, they quickly become attached to their owners and do not like to be left alone for long periods. Exotic Shorthair cats may develop Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome because of their tiny faces. This occurs when the squished face of the cat obstructs its upper airway system which can cause inflammation and low oxygen absorption, leading to other problems. They are a relatively lower-maintenance breed as they are less likely to have matted cat fur and have become another favorite among cat owners.

6. British Shorthair

The British Shorthair cat breed is one of the most popular breeds of cats in the UK- a quarter of all kittens registered each year in the country are of this breed. British Shorthair is an ancient cat breed that is believed to be first brought to Britain by the Romans. They are stocky, powerful-looking cats with rounded, muscular physiques, broad faces, and dense short coats. These features make their comparatively normal ears appear rather small.

They are best characterized by their gorgeous, deep blue-gray coats and mesmerizing orange eyes. This breed of cats is easygoing, social, and affectionate family cats that will follow you around and play safely with children. These cats appear to be attached without seeming too needy. The British Shorthair is also known to be the inspiration for the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” As one of the oldest identifiable cat breeds, they have little to no health issues and a decent life expectancy.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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