Should I be able to hear a cat's purr with hearing aids?

I’m very happy with my HAs and have had a very good experience treating my hearing loss but:

I still can’t hear a cat purring!!!

Is this just down to it being such a low frequency that a RIC can’t replicate the sound or should I be able to hear a purr with a better optimised fitting?

I have Phonak Audeo Life P90s with a power dome in my right and open dome in my left. I’ve had hearing loss since at least my mid-thirties with no obvious cause.

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There are so many other things I worry about not hearing. I can always pick up the cat and feel it purring.

I agree, it’s just frustrating that my wife and kids can hear him purring from quite a distance but I’ve got to be so close that I can smell his breath.

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Well that’s all part of the frustration that comes with hearing loss. Hearing aids help but they don’t fix. Consequently there are always going to be areas where your family can hear things and you can’t . Even with your aids. Sorry but that’s the reality.


Thanks, that’s the sort of the answer that I’m after. I’m a DIYer and don’t want to spend hours chasing an impossible target.

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FWIW, it can depend on the cat. We had two cats. One had a purr that you’d think anyone could hear in the middle of a tornado. The other’s was so soft it almost wasn’t there, sounded more like the faintest rumbly wheeze.

If you’re a DIYer it might be an interesting exercise to bump up the gain a bit at the lower frequencies to see what you get. Long ago I could hear the older-style ultrasonic burglar alarm transmitters and very high-pitched electronics artifacts (not that that was a good thing in all cases). I wonder if any of that will come back with HAs (I pick up my first pair in a couple weeks) since the hearing test only goes up to 8 kHz.

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Have you had REMs done? Make sure you do and make sure your audiologist matches the 50 gain target


I’m hoping to get REMs done soon when I get a c-shell to hopefully stop the 3k-4k leakage that I’m having when my right power dome slips slightly.
The fitting takes this leakage into account so those gains aren’t as high as they should be.

Hopefully a better physically fitted receiver and REM based programmed HAs will help.

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That was one benefit I hoped to get with hearing aids: to hear our cat purr. Well, now I just can hear the cat purr when she’s cuddled up to me, while my wife can hear her across he room. I think it’s the higher frequencies of the purr that I hear. I do get that benefit from the aids.
Note that the gain of the aids drops off significantly below 200 Hz, and nothing is there at 100 Hz. A cat’s purr fundamental frequency is below 50 Hz. We’re not even getting much from the fundamental frequency of a deep male voice. The brain must “hear” that low frequency by making it up from the overtones. I haven’t done the research, so I may be making that up.

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You should be able to hear a cat purr if it’s fairly near. We have 4 cats and I can normally hear 2 of them.

I wear RIC hearing aids and my loss is more severe than yours.

It might be that the expansion threshold for soft sounds is too high and needs lowering to a DB in the range of your cat purring. I would speak to your audiologist.


I cannot hear my cat’s purr either. I do feel vibrations. A cat purr is between 25 and 150 Hertz. Maybe out of frequency range of paradise hearing aids

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I can’t either. Don’t think I ever have.


Thanks @glucas I carried on with this and realised that my BC loss (not showing on audiogram here) hadn’t been accounted for with my fitting. There were quite a lot of adjustments needed, receivers, dome type etc.

Now that’s set up I can hear the cat from close range as well as every fan for half a mile!


Just to add as maybe it might be relevant for some people but I’m now on Lumity 90s and as reported by others they do seem to have a much better lower frequency behaviour than P90s.

That would obviously help out massively with this particular problem.

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Great news! Yes - it is difficult to know when you are missing something. I never actually considered a cats purr until I heard it for the first time after being fitted with Oticon aids using REM. After this - of course, I know if I don’t hear the cat - then there is a problem with my fitting.

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To follow up on my 10/6 post, our cat with the industrial-engine-rumble kind of purr has always been easily heard, but it was a fairly simple sound. Now that I’ve had my aids awhile, I’m discovering an incredible amount of depth in sounds that were pretty simple before. With the cat, I now hear a lot of resonance, like a clear indication of nasal cavities reverberating with overlapping pressure waves. There is a distinct rise and fall of amplitude with each breath, and it’s not the monotone I initially thought - there are several changing frequencies bouncing around with each breath.

This is somewhat equivalent to the first time I wore eyeglasses. I remember coming back from the optometrist noticing each and every leaf on trees. Temporary fabric signs warning of construction, and noticing that the fabric had the characteristic weave pattern of rip-stop nylon. I had never seen one up close.

Of course that kind of sensory detail slides into the background pretty rapidly - the brain simply can’t stand being bombarded with all that information constantly, so it starts being selective about what it pays attention to.

But all that information is there if you need it and want to pay attention to it. I still recall resting at my desk during lunch decades ago, with my head on my hands and eyes closed. I heard footfalls nearby and was surprised that I knew, with certainty, who they belonged to. The sounds of those footfalls were so dense with uniquely-identifying information that they were unmistakable. Being that aware of my surroundings brought a lot of satisfaction.

The barrage of information I hear now, compared to pre-HA times, is sometimes a bit much. But I’m quickly remembering and appreciating the far better understanding of my surroundings.

Including the cat’s purr.


Thanks for getting back with us about your cat purring.
This post is exactly what so many with hearing loss getting hearing aids needs to read and understand.
With hearing loss the brain forgets sounds and it takes the brain a while to relearn those sounds.

Happy for you.


Just like a certain aid can’t be recommended and have the same results on every person, its the same with hearing certain sounds. I don’t agree that just because you have aids you now hear like everyone else. Our loss is unique and individual and the sounds we hear, both with and without aids (and with different aids) will vary greatly. It seems ignorant to claim that just because one person wearing aids can hear a cats purr, that everyone wearing aids should hear equally as well.


Depending on the actual sound; it’s below the normal output of most receivers and possibly the sampling range of some HA.

I can’t remember whether mics have a usable response here either. I’m guessing, but I might be wrong that your aid classifies it as wind noise/rumble across the mic ports and this kills it off too.


Thanks. That makes sense

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