LOUD HIGH-PITCHED sounds like keys rattling, tin foil crinkling and metal spoons banging can cause older cats to have a seizure.
That’s according to a study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. It found that cats over 10 could be set of by the sound of tapping on a computer keyboard, hammering a nail or even the noise of a clucking tongue.
The sounds can cause a sudden pause in movement or brief jerking motions that can last several minutes. The disorder is called feline audiogenic reflex seizures (FARS) but is widely known as ’Tom and Jerry syndrome’ as Tom often displayed sudden jerking in response to loud noises and surprises from Jerry.
The researchers say the sensitivity may be due to the ultrasonic hearing range of the species. Mice and rats communicate in the ultrasonic frequency range (around 40 kHz). The researchers said, “It is believed that cats developed a secondary ultrasonic sensitive hearing range at these frequencies, presumably as an evolutionary advantage in catching rats and mice; their natural prey.”
Both pedigree and non-pedigree cats can be affected but Birmanian breeds tend to be particularly vulnerable to the seizures. The study also found it mostly affects older cats:
"The average age of seizure onset was 15 years, with cats ranging in age from 10 to 19 years." It concluded that, “Further studies are warranted to investigate potential genetic predispositions to this condition.”
So until then please remember to be gentle to your cats ears and put down the tinfoil when they’re around.