Panthers have an acute sense of hearing;
their ears are in fact reasonably large in comparison to the size of their head. Even when resting, their ears seem to pick
up the slightest noise, the ear turning, scanning, reacting to a faint or distant sound.
The external ear of the cat is called the pinna,
the ear flap is thin cartilage, skin & fur, and if you look closely at a domestic cat you can sometimes see the veins
on the back edge of the ear. Felines have hair lining the front inside edge & base of the outer ear; I am not sure about
the purpose of this extra ear hair, I suspect it aids in preventing debri from entering into the inner ear. There are
many muscles connecting to the ear which allow each one to rotate nearly 180°, giving the panther surround sound.
Cats can turn each ear independently,
to try to determine the source and direction of a sound. The ears enable the panther to listen for other animals that may
be out of sight, hear the calls, chattering, or footfall of predator or prey, even for the sounds of a way-wood kitten or
that of a potential mate.
As a communication device a cat has the ability to position the ear at will, signaling
to others about the panther’s mood. *The ears can be held taught on top of the head when the cat is alert to movement
or sound. *Turning of the ear sometimes reveals concern, uncertainty, and the cat trying to pin point the direction of something
it heard. *Ears lowered out to the side of the head indicate a more restful state; often the cat will have its ears in this
position when sleeping. *When the ears are laid back & flat on the head, the cat is afraid, upset, or mad about something.
Some felines including the panther have markings on the back of the
ear. The panthers are not as bold as some of the other species of cat but still noticeable, a bit like someone air brushed
white paint on the back of the dark fur. It is thought that these spots mimic eyes when the cat is sleeping, making the animal
from behind look like its still alert. Some people surmise that these spots are flags, so that young ones can follow a parent
through tall grass and thick vegetation. While another theory is that they are flashed as a warning, with the ears pulled
back, the cat is mad and prepared to defend itself. Regardless of their evolutionary cause, it is obvious these spots are
meant as a display and certainly designed to be seen.