Facts about the animal kingdom

Large-Eared Domestic Cats

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: May 8, 2024
Large-Eared Domestic Cats

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Cat breeds with big ears can be some of the most expressive felines we can adopt into our family. The ears themselves can stand up on end in alertness, settle down when relaxed and are an important way to communicate with other cats, animals and even humans. Each breed has certain features which distinguish them from others. Ear shape and size is only one factor, but it is a noticeable one. While it won't change how you care for and love an individual cat, knowing a breed can help us provide the right care according to communal physical and behavioral traits. They are also something judges look for in show cats.

AnimalWised shares 15 large-eared domestic cats to show you just how diverse they can be. Our list provides photos of these cats as well as some general background information.

You may also be interested in: Domestic Cats That Look Like Leopards
  1. Why do some cats have large ears?
  2. Russian Blue
  3. Savannah
  4. Ocicat
  5. Oriental Shorthair
  6. Abyssinian
  7. Siamese
  8. Singapura
  9. Devon Rex
  10. Cornish Rex
  11. Javanese
  12. Sphynx
  13. Havana Brown
  14. Ashera
  15. Lykoi
  16. Australian Mist
  17. Note on ear tufts
See more >>

Why do some cats have large ears?

The reason why there are some cats with big ears and others with smaller ears is due to genetics. While many can look very similar, all domestic cats are unique. Their physical traits are passed down from their parents, but they are not identical to them. A mixture of dominant and recessive genes will determine which characteristics present in the new cat. Some of these are genes which have been otherwise dormant for generations.

Some variations are greater than others and we might find one cat has larger ears than even their litter mates. Think of this kitten as the Dumbo of the feline world. Since these larger ears are often quite attractive, certain breeders have decided to encourage this genetic trait by breeding these naturally big-eared cats with other similar cats. The result are the following breeds of domestic cats with large ears.

1. Russian Blue

At first glance, the most striking feature of the Russian Blue cat breed may not be their big ears. Instead, the shimmering beauty of their grey blue coat from which they derive their name draws our gaze. When we do take a closer look, we see their ears form part of an elegant facial structure which breeders claim should make an equilateral triangle from the tips of their long ears to the point of their nose. With their long and fine-boned body, it isn't just their face which makes this breed appear so graceful.

Although these cars exude elegance, this doesn't mean they will lie down all day. They are playful and loving animals which will maintain this playfulness into adulthood. They form strong bonds with their families, but can be a little reserved with strangers. Like all cats, they are not easy to train. However, they are very intelligent and will develop particular ways of playing. In most cases, it is up to us to learn their needs and adapt to their wonderful personalities.

Find out some similarly-colored felines with our list of gray cat breeds.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 1. Russian Blue

2. Savannah

One of the most incredible looking domestic cats is the Savannah. This is partly because they are only recently domesticated. Bred with wild serval cats, they are taller than most other domestic breeds and have a wild look due to their spotted markings. Their ears are particularly long, inheriting them from the serval, a type of wild cat. In the wild, these long ears are used to monitor for potential prey or predators.

An almost unique physical trait on these long ears is the presence of ocelli. These are distinctive markings which appear on the back of the ear and resemble the shape of eyes. These give the appearance the cat is looking at something approaching from behind, even though they are looking in the opposite direction. This means they can stop predators even if they are unaware of their presence.

Despite their wild ancestry, most Savannah cats are well adapted to living with humans. They are friendly cats and are thought to behave a little like dogs, especially when it comes to following their owner around the house. They are also very athletic and will happily jump up to high points such as fridges and even the tops of doors. They need a lot of environmental enrichment, but can be great family pets.

Discover more about the Savannah and other cats with similar markings in our list of spotted cat breeds.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 2. Savannah

3. Ocicat

While they may look wild, the Ocicat is actually fully domesticated and does not have wild genes in their DNA. This is despite the fact they look very similar to an ocelot, so much so it has led to their common name. The ocelot has shorter ears in proportion to their head than the Ocicat. The latter has long pointed ears which give them a very expressive face and we defy anyone to contend their cuteness.

Their domestication also lends them to being wonderful companion animals. They are even known to respond to certain training elements and also have a ‘canine’ sensibility. They are great in families and can even get on well with other cats and animals.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 3. Ocicat

4. Oriental Shorthair

Perhaps the cat breed with the largest ears, everything about the Oriental cat is long. They have an elongated body which is sleek, fine and not as muscular as other cats. Their almond shaped eyes are often green in color, but their coats can be of almost any variant. They can be solid, parti-color, tabby, calico or tortoiseshell. The shorthair and longhair breeds only differ in terms of coat length due to recessive genes. Otherwise, they are very similar in temperament. Their ears are particularly long, giving them a unique expression.

The temperament of this larged-eared cat is one which requires a human guardian who can meet their needs. They are very playful and have been known to respond to some training. As they are descended from Siamese cats, they are often quite vocal. Someone who wants to look after an Oriental cat needs to have the time to play with them and be happy with a cat who will want to interact a lot.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 4. Oriental Shorthair

5. Abyssinian

Abyssinian cats are believed to originate in Africa, specifically modern day Ethiopia which was previously known as Abyssinia. They are long of body which also extends to their ears, but they are not as svelte as breeds like the Oriental. When we talk about cats with long ears, we specifically mean they are long in proportion to their head. Abyssinians are generally quite muscular, yet also long and athletic. Such athleticism translates to their behavior and it can be difficult to tire them out.

It is the Abyssinian cat's restlessness and willfulness which means they are not the best pet for everyone. If they don't have enough stimulation, they can grow depressed. They need to be played with and cuddled or they may develop behavioral problems to express their unhappiness.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 5. Abyssinian

6. Siamese

The Siamese cat is one of the originators of many of the long eared cats on this list. For example, the long triangular face of the Oriental Shorthair comes from the Siamese which is similarly shaped. One of the most ancient cat breeds, the Siamese has developed over centuries. This means there is some argument over whether they should be included on our long-eared cat list. The reason is that during the mid-20th century, the taste for a longer slender look appealed more to many breeders. This resulted in the Modern Siamese cat which is more often shown and has longer ears. The Traditional Siamese, also known as the Thai cat, is now much less common and has shorter ears.

The Siamese cat has different variations, but generally they have darker points of color on the extremities and lighter whiteness on the main part of the body. The reason for this is due to a form of heat sensitive albinism. The warmer parts of the body do not activate the enzyme which produces melanin, giving the white appearance on these areas. The cooler areas are those on the face, paws, tail, legs and, of course, the tips of their long ears. The dark color appears due to the melanin activation.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 6. Siamese

7. Singapura

While many of the large-eared cats on this list tend to have elongated bodies, the Singapura is generally a little stockier in body. Their big ears are not as long as some, but they are definitely pronounced and give their face a lot of character. As a recent cat breed, there are some controversies over whether this cat is even an individual breed of their own. Some claim they are so genetically similar to Burmese cats that they are in fact the same breed. However, the length of the Singapura ears implies they are indeed a distinct breed.

They are wonderful cats with a ticked tabby coat similar to the Abyssinian. They have a rounder face which somewhat resembles the cat pictures found in a lot of East Asian art. They are cute, great with humans and can make wonderful pets if you can afford their often prohibitive breeder prices.

See some other cats with this coat pattern by looking at our list of tabby cat breeds.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 7. Singapura

8. Devon Rex

The first of our two Rex cat breeds, the Devon Rex has a very distinctive appearance. Their head shape is similar to the Oriental in that it is long and pointed. Their ears are particularly big and almost have a bat-like quality to them. However, one of the most particular aspects to this breed is their coat. Their fur is short in most places, but turns into a wavy or curly appearance thanks to a genetic mutation. Some coats are thicker whereas others almost make them look hairless in places.

In addition to being cats with big ears, the Devon Rex is incredibly loyal and clever. They love to cuddle and spend a lot of time with their owners, even choosing to rest on their shoulders.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 8. Devon Rex

9. Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex also has a genetic reason for the curl in their coat, although it is not the same gene as that which gives the Devon Rex their appearance. The coat is often curly, but can be so thin that they appear bald in some places. This is because the Cornish Rex only has an undercoat, unlike most cats. This means they are very soft, but do not have much protection from cold temperatures.

They do have a pointed triangular shaped head with very long ears. They originate from England, specifically the county of Cornwall where they get their name, and are very loving cats.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 9. Cornish Rex

10. Javanese

Considered to be a sub-set of the Balinese cat, one of the most noticeable differences between these cats is their large pointed ears which are even bigger than the former. This cat has a color-point appearance which is similar to types of Siamese cat and this distinguishes them from similar looking breeds to the Oriental Longhair. The Javanese cat's ears are long throughout their lives, but they look particularly big in proportion when they are kittens.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 10. Javanese

11. Sphynx

While some of the long-eared cats on this list have little hair or have the downy fur of the Cornish Rex, the Sphynx is the first which is completely hairless. Although they don't have any hair, they still maintain the markings on their skin as if they had. This means that a Sphynx cat can still have tabby or spotted markings even without fur.

Being a type of hairless cat is perhaps the most distinctive characteristic between the Sphynx and other breeds, but it is not the only one. They have a long body which extends to the ears. The lack of fur makes these ears look even longer, almost giving them an alien-like appearance. They are often quite boisterous characters and, while affectionate, need lots of attention or they may develop behavioral issues. Similar hairless cats with big ears include the Don Sphynx (or Donskoy cat) and Peterbald. They bear certain resemblances, but are not actually related to the Sphynx.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 11. Sphynx

12. Havana Brown

Another Siamese derivative breed, the Havana Brown shares their large ears, but does not have the same colorpoint coloration. While not many people have heard of this breed, they have been around since shortly after WWII. They are strong cats and maintain a short coat. They love their adopted families and will be very loyal. While desiring to play, they are not the most energetic cat. They are also generally very friendly, curious and not as fearful as many other breeds.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 12. Havana Brown

13. Ashera

Another fine looking cat with a sleek body and long ears, the Ashera is relatively rare cat. This rarity makes their availability very limited and only for those with a lot of money to spend on a pet. Their character is very mild and friendly, but this doesn't mean they don't have a lot of personality. As a domestic cat with long ears, they are descended from wild leopard cats and the serval. For this reason many so-called Ashera cats are actually Savannah cats which have been mis-named.

They are a generally large cat, a trait which extends to their ears. They are beautiful and graceful in how they move and muscular rather than bulky. There are different varieties of color with the cream colored ‘Royal’ Ashera cat being perhaps the most exclusive.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 13. Ashera

14. Lykoi

The so-called ‘werewolf’ cat is one of the most fascinating cats to have been developed over the last few years. Only dating back as recently as 2010, the Lykoi breed has an odd coat. They are sometimes completely or partially hairless, but not always forever. This is because their coat can grow back seasonally when they are older. While this phenomenon is little understood, the result is a look which makes them resemble the fictional werewolf.

It is not only their coat which gives this somewhat spooky appearance. Their canine-like big ears and penetrating yellow eyes also add to the illusion. Despite this intimidating appearance, they are lovely cats with a very friendly nature and are affectionate towards their human guardians.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 14. Lykoi

15. Australian Mist

This Australian-bred cat has big ears, but they might not seem as proportionately long when you look at their eyes which are equally large and beautiful. They have a beautiful soft coat with a spotted tabby marking. They look at little like a chocolate cream Bengal cat with an even more faded look, the reason for their ‘mist’ name. They are medium sized and can live for a long time.

Being such long livers means you have the opportunity to spend even more time with these incredibly friendly cats. The Australian Mist loves to be petted and will play as long as you have the stamina.

Large-Eared Domestic Cats - 15. Australian Mist

Note on ear tufts

Some may think we are missing large-eared domestic cats like the Maine Coon, but this is not actually true. The reason is that many longhair breeds have ear tufts which extend from the top of the ear as well as in the ear canal. Their actual ear size is not particularly large, it just might look like they are due to the tufts. The Norwegian cat and Siberian cat are like this too, although the Turkish Angora might have been included on our list. These cats sometimes have long ears as well as tufts, which is one way you can distinguish between them and the Persian cat .

If you want to read similar articles to Large-Eared Domestic Cats, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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Really like long eared and big eared cats. I like a cat which behaves like a house pet, but has the look of a wild animal. Makes me feel adventurous!
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Large-Eared Domestic Cats