Can Cats Hear Mice In Walls?


Cats have incredible hearing capabilities that allow them to detect faint or distant sounds. Their sensitive ears can pick up high-frequency sounds up to two octaves higher than humans can hear. One common question cat owners have is whether cats can hear mice moving within walls and closed spaces.

This article will provide an overview of cats’ hearing abilities, the sounds mice make, the distances cats can hear mice, factors affecting their detection, cat behaviors when hearing mice, methods to locate rodents, reasons for cats being alerted to mice presence, and tips for preventing infestations.

Cats’ Hearing Abilities

Cats have excellent hearing abilities compared to humans. According to a study published in Hearing Research, the hearing range of cats extends from 48 Hz to 85 kHz for sounds at 70 dB SPL (Heffner, 1985). This gives cats one of the broadest hearing ranges among mammals, able to hear frequencies up to 2.6 times higher than humans can detect.

At lower intensity levels, cats can hear even higher frequencies up to 100 kHz. Their sensitivity is also greater than humans, with thresholds as low as -5 to 0 dB SPL between 250 Hz and 16 kHz. Cats have very sensitive hearing and can detect sounds as quiet as 0 dB, compared to humans who need at least 20 dB to hear a sound.

In addition to their wide frequency range, cats have excellent directional hearing. They can pinpoint the location of sounds very accurately, aided by their large movable ears that can independently orient to a source. Their brain is specialized to detect the tiny differences in timing and sound intensity between their two ears, allowing cats to hone in on the position of noises swiftly.

Mice Sounds

Mice vocalize over a broad range of frequencies that extend from the human-audible range up to the ultrasonic range that humans cannot hear ( When mice squeak in frequencies audible to humans, it is often during aggressive encounters with other mice or when they are injured or trapped. However, much of mice communication utilizes ultrasonic frequencies beyond human hearing range.

In addition to vocalizations, mice produce other audible signs of their presence. Sounds of mice climbing, scratching, gnawing, and scurrying within walls and ceilings are well within the range of human hearing. The pitter-patter of tiny feet running across various surfaces and the scratching of claws are very distinct sounds mice make frequently (

Distance Cats Can Hear Mice

Cats have excellent high frequency hearing that allows them to detect even the quietest squeaks of mice from impressive distances. According to studies, cats can hear frequencies up to 79,000 Hz, while humans can only hear up to 20,000 Hz.

Mice vocalize in ultrasonic frequencies ranging from 15,000 to 100,000 Hz to communicate with each other. Since cats can detect these high-pitched squeaks and chirps, they are able to hear mice from far away. Specifically, cats can hear mouse squeaks from as far as 3-4 floors away in a building or 20 meters away in an open field, based on tests.

The ability to hear the high frequency noises of mice at great distances gives cats a distinct advantage for locating and hunting these rodents. So even if a mouse is tucked away inside walls or ceilings, a cat’s acute hearing allows it to pinpoint the location and be alerted to the mouse’s presence.

According to Feline Hearing Ability – zooplus Magazine, mice constantly squeak to communicate with each other, and cats can detect these noises from up to 20 meters away. Their super-sensitive ears allow cats to find prey even when it is hidden from view.

Factors Affecting Cats Hearing Mice

A cat’s ability to hear mice inside walls depends on several factors that can work for or against their sensitive hearing capabilities. One major factor is barriers like walls that can reduce noises from mice. Though cats have excellent high frequency hearing ideal for detecting rodent sounds, walls muffle and dampen noises. Thick walls like those made from concrete or thick wood beams block more sound waves than thinner hollow walls.

Ambient background noise is another element that impacts cats hearing mice in walls. Loud televisions, people conversations, appliances running etc. can mask subtle sounds from mice. Quiet environments like at night when people are sleeping are optimal times for cats to pick up on faint mice noises. The level of other noise pollution during the day or in busy households can hinder cats’ ability to hear through obstacles.

Cat Behavior Indicating Hearing Mice

Cats often exhibit telltale behaviors when they hear mice in walls or elsewhere in a home. Common reactions include staring intensely at walls, corners, baseboards or other areas, meowing or crying out at walls, and scratching at walls, floors or woodwork. According to Victor Pest, these behaviors are signs your cat senses an intruder like a mouse and is trying to alert you.

Cats may meow insistently or make unusual chirping or chattering sounds when hearing mice in walls. They tend to stare fixedly at the source of the sounds only they can detect. You may notice your cat refusing to enter a certain room or area, appearing spooked or startled by something unseen. Scratching at walls, floorboards or baseboards is another clue your cat is hunting mice it hears within the infrastructure. These reactions indicate your cat’s advanced hearing has detected rodent activity even though you can’t hear anything yourself.

Methods to Locate Mice

Cats have extremely sensitive hearing that allows them to detect high-frequency sounds made by mice that are inaudible to humans. Their sense of hearing is so acute that they can hear ultrasonic frequencies up to 2 octaves higher than humans can. According to some sources, cats can hear sounds up to 65 kHz, while the maximum range for humans is only 20 kHz.

This allows cats to hear even faint squeaks and scampering sounds made by mice through walls, floors, and ceilings. Their mobile outer ears can pinpoint the source of sounds with great accuracy. So even if humans don’t hear any signs of mice, cats can detect their presence through subtle audio cues.

In addition to their extraordinary hearing, cats also have a powerful sense of smell that aids their ability to locate mice. They can detect mice pheromones and follow scent trails left behind throughout the home. Cats’ scent glands and vomeronasal organs are extremely sensitive to the smell of rodents.

Cats also rely on sight when hunting mice. Their excellent vision allows them to spot the slightest movements and notice if anything is amiss. Subtle signs like droppings or gnaw marks can visually alert cats to the presence of mice even if they aren’t seen or heard at that moment.

With their combined hearing, smelling, and visual capabilities, cats have multiple methods for pinpointing the presence and location of hidden mice in walls, attics, basements, and other concealed areas that humans may overlook.

Reasons Cats Are Alerted to Mice

Cats have an innate hunting instinct that drives them to pursue prey like mice. This instinct evolved to help feral and wild cats survive by catching food. Even domestic cats retain this strong drive to hunt. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, indoor cats allowed to act on their instincts by hunting toys or treats tend to be more satisfied and less bored or anxious.

Cats are also highly territorial and alert to any intruders in their perceived domain. The scent and sounds of an unseen mouse in the walls can easily trigger a cat’s predatory instincts. Cats are known for stalking, chasing, and playing with their prey before finally killing it. So even just the noises of rodents in the infrastructure gets cats’ hackles up. As the AVMA reports, cats seem to gain fulfillment from catching hypothetical prey, even if they are well-fed.

In addition to innate hunting behaviors, cats may be alerted to mice in walls when bored or looking for stimulation. An indoor cat without enough interactive playtime or environmental enrichment may become hyper alert to any small movements and sounds. Pest control company Victor (source) notes that cats can seem spooked, annoyed, or concerned when pest infestations provoke their senses.

Preventing Mice Infestations

One of the most effective ways to keep mice out of your home is by sealing any potential entry points and removing food sources that may attract them. Mice can squeeze through openings as small as a dime, so it’s important to inspect both inside and outside your home for gaps and cracks they could use.

Some key areas to check and seal include:

  • Around pipes, vents, wiring, and utility lines where they enter the house
  • Cracks in foundations and openings where cables or pipes pass through walls
  • Gaps around windows, doors, attic vents, and under doors
  • Holes in screens or screen doors
  • Cracks in siding, stucco, or other exterior walls

Use materials like steel wool, caulk, foam sealant, metal flashing, copper mesh, and cement to plug holes both inside and outside the home. Pay special attention to the attic, basement, garage, and areas around kitchen appliances where gaps are common.

It’s also crucial to store all human and pet food in chew-proof, sealed plastic or metal containers, and to promptly clean up any crumbs or spills. Do not leave pet food out overnight. Keep trash and recycling bins covered securely and pick up fallen fruits/nuts outside. With their food sources removed, mice will have no incentive to enter the home.

Implementing preventative sealing and food storage measures is the best way to keep mice out of walls and ceilings long-term. For more tips, check out How To Keep Mice Out Of Walls And Ceilings | MN Mouse Control.


In summary, cats have excellent hearing capabilities that allow them to detect high frequency sounds made by mice from reasonable distances. Factors like walls, floors, ambient noise and cat breed can impact how far away a cat can hear mice. Cats are alerted to mice by hearing squeaking, seeing mice droppings or disturbances, and smelling mice urine and pheromones. Though cats can be useful for controlling mice, the most effective prevention is sealing up entry points, removing clutter and keeping food in sealed containers.

The key points are:

  • Cats can hear high frequency mouse sounds and noises through walls, floors and other barriers thanks to their sensitive ears and ability to pinpoint sound location.
  • Hearing distance is affected by ambient noise, barriers, cat breed traits, and other factors.
  • Cats detect mice not just by hearing, but also by smell, sight, their hunting instinct, and other cues.
  • While cats can catch mice in homes, the most reliable prevention is through environmental measures like sealing up entry points.

In conclusion, cats do have the ability to hear mice through walls and catch them, but also rely on other senses. Focusing on prevention and control methods can most effectively and humanely manage mice.

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