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Why Do Cats Have a Henry’s Pocket? What Is It For?

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	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ, Veterinarian

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Henry’s Pocket is the little flap of flesh you see on the outer part of a cat’s ear. Cats’ outer ears resemble triangles and are called pinnae. On the outside of the pinna, there’s a small pocket close to the cat’s skull, the Henry’s Pocket. Scientists don’t know why cats have this little fleshy pouch, nor are they sure of its purpose.

While it’s pronounced on most cats, many other animals, including bats, weasels, and some dogs, also have the pouch. It’s present in all cat breeds, but no one knows where the name comes from.

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Is There Speculation About the Purpose of a Cat’s Henry’s Pocket?

Yes. Some scientists suggest the pouch may help animals better hear high-pitched noises. Others argue that the pouch helps cats pinpoint where sounds are coming from.

Or, it may help cats angle their ears efficiently to locate the source of sounds. It could also allow cats to move their ears to express emotion. While cats have some of the best hearing among mammals, there’s no proof this pouch contributes to their extraordinary hearing range.

Is There Anything I Need to Do to Keep My Cats’ Ears Healthy?

Black and white kitten with Henry's Fold in ear

Cats generally take pretty good care of their ears without human assistance. Keep in mind that cats’ hearing is about five times more sensitive than yours and that cats can hear in an extended range of frequencies, making it easier for them to become overwhelmed by loud noises.

Try to keep loud noises to a minimum and take your cat for regular veterinary checkups. Your veterinarian will check your cat’s ears and Henry’s Pocket during the exam to ensure everything looks healthy. They can also show you how to clean your pet’s ears properly at home.

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Conclusion

Cats have a fleshy pouch on the outside of their outer ear called the Henry’s Pocket. Cats, bats, dogs, and weasels all have the feature. Scientists and veterinarians don’t know why cats have the pouch, nor do they understand its function. However, there is speculation that it could increase cats’ ability to express emotion using their ears or pinpoint where sounds are coming from.

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