Ear Fur in Cats

Caitlin Dempsey


A cropped photo of a black cat's right ear and green right eye.

If you look closely at a cat’s ear, you will notice they have sparse fur that grow just inside ear and longer hairs along the tips of the ears.

Ear furnishings

Ear furnishings are the long hairs that grow inside the pinna of a cat’s ears. Cats have ear furnishings to help them filter sound directly into their ears.  Small vibrations of the hair inside the ear help the cat to hear sounds from far away.

Ear furnishings also help to filter out dust and debris to prevent it from entering the ear.

What is the purpose of ear tufts?

Cats also have some longer fur that grows on the tips of their ears. These hairs are often called “ear tufts” or “ear tops” and are also thought to help with a cat’s sense of hearing.

All cats have longer pieces of fur at the tips of their pinna, the outer ear structure. How prominent those ear tufts are depends on the type of cat.

A cropped photo of a black cat's right ear and green right eye.
A domestic shorthair black cat with ear tufts. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

What kinds of cat breeds have prominent ear furnishings?

Some breeds of cats, such as Maine Coons and American Bobtails, are known for having particularly prominent ear furnishings.

The right ear of a Maine coon kitten with parts of the ear labeled.
The ear of a Maine coon kitten. Photo © DenisNata / stock.adobe.com. Diagram: Caitlin Dempsey.


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey holds both a master's in Geography from UCLA and a Master of Library and Information Science. She is the editor of Geographyrealm.com and an avid researcher of geography and feline topics. A lifelong cat owner, Caitlin currently has three rescued cats: an orange tabby, a gray tabby, and a black cat.