TL;DR Justify helmets that work for humans with cat ears for a modern army

There has been a few cat species from medieval/fantasy like khajit and mithra and they have taken a few different methods for designing helmets around cat ears. These seem to be a balance between protection and blocking any advanced hearing that such larger ears might offer.

The three paths I see taken are:

  • Regular helmets/Cat ears not visible: cat ears dissapear or are squished up in the helmet. Gives good protection, but hearing will suffer.

  • No armour: Cat humans tend to be lightly armoured and agile so the helmet is just skipped. Good hearing, visibility of the cat ears, but no protection.

  • Cat ear shaped helmet: These seem to be the best balance for fantasy. They offer the protection of regular helmets and don't crush the ears while still giving hearing ability (mildy restricted by leather or ear holes in steel).

For a fantasy environment I feel the cat ear shaped helmet works best (others have their situations) and I can even see some pretty good examples from the khajit in ESO. There is even some parrallels to horns on viking helmets.

For a modern/sci fi environment I feel the balance is shifted.

Most real world modern helmets only cover the top of the head which is where most of a cat human's ears are. They also tend to have a very uniform shape to help protect from shrapnel and, if lucky, bullets. I have seen some bike helmets that integrate cat like ears but I feel as if these odd shapes would prove a structural weak point compared to the uniform shape of a regular helmet. They also tend to be rather large and clunky, which could limit/slow movement for a much smaller benefit (compared to fantasy/medieval armour).

The same three options that were available for any fantasy army are available for a modern army, but I feel as if the balance has shifted towards no headgear. Except when exposed to heavy shrapnel/artillery warfare I can't see the advantages of helmets for a cat eared human.

Is there a way to make helmets in general viable/preferable for cat eared humans?

Assume you are equipping a modern or slightly future army and would have access to modern technology/materials, but also assume you are trying to do it en mass for a reasonable price.


4 Answers 4


The PASGT (1960) and ACH (present) helmet used by US troops covers the ears and the back of the head of humans.

A felinoid would probably want a cutout in the inner lining for ears to give a little ceiling room, so the circulation in the ears did not get cut off. Other than that the same helmet would work identically for felinoids as humans, and there would be no external visual difference. https://www.nap.edu/read/18621/chapter/4

Mass manufacturing of the helmets is a solved problem: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2175-91462016000100033

  • $\begingroup$ This is exactly what I was going to say. We already have combat helmets that cover the ears. I would make them all the same, with an option to remove a portion of the lining. $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2017 at 18:59

If you are working with fully modern technology, then the answer would be one of two options. The first would be the now very common 'hear through' option often found in things like earbuds (https://www.techradar.com/audio/headphones/earbuds-airpods/amazon-echo-buds-2023-review) that would allow them to use their communications ear pieces, which could be small in-ear buds or speakers in the helmet lining. This would allow them to fully in case their ears in protective gear while still allowing them to hear the world around them. This could allow for ear-shaped helmets, but more likely, because the main point of a military uniform is to make differentiating individuals harder for enemies, they would likely have a special 'padded pouch' built into the helmet that allows the ears to safely lay down under the helmet.

The second option would be less likely (mostly because of the same issue with easy identification above) But you could go with a type of concussion- specialized helmet (similar to concussion helmets in sports that focus on padding a band down the middle of the head) and neck support system (like a Q collar, https://www.si.com/edge/2016/06/15/concussion-prevention-technology-qcollar-neck-wearable-football-hockey) that would allow cut-outs for the ears without hampering the main use of modern military helmets, to reduce shock to the brain. The ears would be vulnerable to damage, but since they are not vital points, would be similar to human helmets that leave the ear exposed.


One alternate possibility; cats' ears fold back and lay flat on their heads. Coupled with a feline form of ear buds for hearing protection and augmentation, and some method of cooling the blood in the ears (the primary way cats and many other animals regulate body temperature), a feline-hominid species could get along quite well with an ordinary human-style protective helmet, adapted to the shape of their skull and possibly slightly roomier to accommodate the folded ears without pinching.

However practical this approach may be in-universe, this wouldn't work well in illustrations; even a feline face requires the upright, slightly rounded ears to distinguish at a glance, otherwise the character could be mistaken, at least at first, for any of a number of anthropomorphized animal species. To ensure the proper overall head shape, you'd either want the ears molded into the helmet (whether forward-facing or laid back, the former is more catlike but increases cross-section), or leave them open with ear holes (as long as the environment permits).


Human ears are stationary, they do not move (for most people, and for the few only a little) There are ridges on the exterior parts that modulate the sounds depending on direction, and finally the brain uses a form of parallax between when sound is heard in either ear, and how it's modified by the exterior shape of the ear, to calculate a rough direction. This is good enough for humans, as we primarily use our eyes for hunting, and use hearing for more of a rough estimate of the surroundings.

Cats use their hearing much more when hunting, turning their ears to get a much more detailed perception of sound in a specific direction. (I would presume everything else the humans brain does, is similarly done for the cat)

This matters when designing a helmet, as for a human covering the ears has a much smaller impact, as it doesn't prevent us from moving the ears (we don't move them) and even if it muffles sound some, it's much less relevant for a human.

Finally, as you say this is in a modern environment, none of that really matters. Guns are loud, and humans use earplugs, to not harm their hearing. A cat would be much more susceptible to those problems.

So in short, warfare is loud, guns, artillery, tanks etc. If you don't want to lose your hearing, you want your ears covered.


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