Just like their human parents, cats also enjoy music a great deal. However, the jury is still out on what sort of music a cat prefers. For instance, experts will have you believe that cats enjoy music that has been made, keeping them in mind. However, cat parents will tell a different story.
Does your cat curl up to you when a specific song comes on the radio? It is possible that they only do so because they are aware of your reaction to the music. If a piece makes you happy, your cat may try to mimic your response to the song as an opportunity to spend more time with you.
If you are curious about how cats respond to music or what kind of music makes them happy, keep reading!
What Research Has to Say?
A study by University of Wisconsin psychologists had to reveal the relationship between cats and music. According to them, cats do enjoy music. However, it has to be a specific type of music. When it comes to us, our ears respond positively to particular tempos. Generally, we prefer music in our native language.
Similarly, cats also prefer music with the same frequency range and tempo as those used in regular communication. In the experiment, the researchers observed how the cats purred, rubbed themselves against the speaker, or turned their heads towards the music. The study was conducted by psychologists Megan Savage and Charles Snowdon and was published in “Applied Animal Behaviour Science,” the official journal of the International Society for Applied Ethology.
Cats have different biological make-up and senses as compared to humans. It is only natural that they don’t share our affinity for pop, rock, or classical music.
Cats Respond to Familiar Sounds
When our friend calls us over on the street or receives a phone call from our parents, we react positively. It happens because we are familiar with their voices. Similarly, cats also respond to everyday sounds.
For instance, a familiar and comforting sound for a kitten would be its mother’s purr. A cat will also run over to its human parent when he or she calls it over.
Cats are natural predators, and wild cats employ their senses to hunt and even escape. Just like feral cats, even domesticated cats have high tuned senses. As compared to humans, they are so much more sensitive to sound and music. Did you know that even their whiskers move to the slightest vibrations or movement in their surroundings? Consequently, they might find your choice of songs to be too loud for their taste.
There are musical compositions out there that are specifically meant for cats. These compositions or songs tend to have tone, pitch, and tempo, catering to our furry friends. When played, most cats react with great joy and even rub up against the source of music to affirm their approval.
Cats and Human Music
Our feline friends have a long history of hunting in the wild, and they can sense vibrations that humans cannot even begin to comprehend. Let’s say you have an amplifier in your ear, making everything sound louder and more precise. It is how cats perceive noises that we don’t even realize. Humans can hear sounds between the frequencies of 16 Hz – 20 Hz. For animals, it is between 20 kHz -1.6 GHz!
Just like their canine counterparts, our feline pets also dislike loud noises. You may have often seen your cat reacting strongly to a loud bang or other troublesome sources of noise such as fireworks, horns, etc. It is because loud music makes them anxious and afraid. Please refrain from playing music loudly on speakers if your cat is around. You may be doing it to get a fun reaction out of your cat, but your feline friend only ends up getting alarmed.
In comparison to cats, dogs are more playful and active. More often than not, our furry friends prefer biding time by themselves. However, this characteristic of cats does not mean that they don’t want their owners’ affection. They also enjoy the company of their owners and love it when their human parents shower them with love and respect.
To get a favorable reaction from their owners, cats will often accompany the latter when listening to their favorite songs. If cats see that specific pieces considerably relax their owners, they will also mimic those actions to spend more time with them.
Effect of Music on Cats
Why do we listen to music? We listen to soothing songs to calm our nerves. Meanwhile, loud songs can fill us to the brim with energy. We also resort to pieces when we are sad and overwhelmed. Music has a whole lot of benefits and can also improve our concentration skills significantly.
Cats also derive great pleasure from music, as long as you play the correct type of sound. Veterinarians often use music in their chambers to calm down our furry friends and turn the visits into a good experience for the cats.
- It Makes Them Happy – Like humans, cats are also prone to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. If your cat has been brooding for days or keeps going into a corner, you can try playing them some music. It can make your cat feel happy and warm.
- It Will Calm Them Down – Has your cat been overly antagonistic or moody lately? As most of us know, cats tend to act out from time to time. Instead of forcing them to play with you or petting them aggressively, try playing some music for them. It may have a calming effect on your pet.
- Lower Stress Levels – Cat music is played out in shelters and veterinary clinics to calm down their nerves.
- Music Can Balance The Nervous System – Research shows that specific sounds can balance and stabilize the nervous system in animals, including our precious cats.
What Types of Sounds Are the Most Appropriate for Cats?
Cellist David Teie had played a considerable role in the groundbreaking study conducted by Megan Savage and Charles Snowdon to understand the relationship between cats and music. The researchers and musicians wished to know if the well-known and well-regarded musical favorites of humans had any effect on cats?
During their research, they created compositions for cats only. They went out to different homes and played them for cats. They also played some human music for the cats. The study revealed that cats preferred the former. Thus, the researchers decided that cats may find tempos similar to their resting respiratory rates more appealing. Following the research, David Teie also started selling more cat-friendly compositions. Here is a list of different types of sounds and music that may have a positive effect on cats:
- Soft Classical Music – Soft, harmonious tunes are shown to calm down the nerves of cats. You can try playing few different compositions for your cat to determine which one will incite the best reaction out of your pet.
- Natural Sounds – Does the crackle of a bonfire or the chorus of insects in the summer make you feel warm and good? Natural sounds may have a similar effect on your cats as well. For instance, your feline friend may react positively to the sound of crashing sea waves.
- Meditation Music – If you are a meditation fan and listen to certain sounds while meditating, try playing the sounds for your cat to see if it reacts.
- High-Frequency Sounds – Cats prefer communicating in high frequencies. Sounds with high frequencies may be soothing to the ears of cats.
- Toys which Mimic Sounds Made by Preys – Cats use playtime to improve upon their hunting skills. Domesticated cats love chasing toys that look like mice and small birds. They love it even more when these toys make sounds of those animals.
- Songs with the Right Speed – Did you know that purring creates 1000 beats per minute? Thus, the speed of the music also matters. If your cat is turning its head away from the piece you are playing, then maybe it does not like the song’s speed.
- Other Compositions – There are tons of cat-specific compositions out there. For instance, cellist David Teie has his range of arrangements suited to cats. Different cat-specific pieces are also available on platforms such as YouTube and other music platforms.
What Noises Do Cats Hate?
Research has shown that cats react well to certain sounds and compositions. There are also certain types of noises that cats dislike. These include:
- Electronics – Did you know that the loud noises that often play on TV or our phones can harm our pets? It can lead to changes in the cardiovascular and endocrine systems of cats. It affects their sleep cycle negatively and also makes them prone to seizures. Thus, loud noises are not only annoying for cats but can also harm their health.
- Quick and Abrupt Noises – As mentioned earlier, cats possess heightened senses due to their long history of predating on smaller prey and escaping from larger, more dangerous animals in the wild. Even domesticated cats have these skills. As a result, they are quickly drawn to the source of a quick sound. A sudden thud or footsteps can remind them of imminent danger.
- Hissing Sounds – Cats often make use of the hissing sound to fend off predators. For instance, mother cats often hiss at other animals and humans who try to get too close to their kittens. Generally, this hissing noise is borne out of fear and pain.
Similarly, a cat doesn’t like being hissed at either. It makes our furry friend feel threatened. Sounds created by a rustling paper bag, a windbreaker is also very similar to the hissing noise cats make.
- Loud Noises – We have already gone over those loud playing songs for our cats can be bad for them. After all, cats have sensitive ears. Even humans react negatively to thunderstorms or fire alarms. Meanwhile, the threshold for “loud” is much lower in cats, and they can get afraid of a passing ambulance, a vacuum cleaner, fireworks, etc.
Did you know that tiny muscles are present inside our pets’ ears to safeguard them against loud noises? However, this protection isn’t enough as loud sounds can come out of nowhere.
Some Cats Like Sounds that Other Cats Hate
Human beings have different preferences when it comes to songs. Some prefer modern-day popular music. Meanwhile, others listen to old classics all day long. Similarly, cats are also different from each other when it comes to favorite songs or sounds.
Some cats love the sound that the little bells on toys make. The sound serves as a reminder for them that playtime is near. However, owners tend to attach little bells around the necks of their pets in many households. For those cats, sounds made by bells warrant a different experience entirely.
To Sum Up
Music plays an essential role in the lives of humans. Most humans listen to music on a day-to-day basis. Songs can instantly uplift our mood and give us the motivation to go forward. At the same time, sad songs serve as the perfect companion on a bad day.
If you have ever wondered about whether cats are affected by music as their owners, the answer is yes. Vets and shelters make use of music to calm down cats. A lot of studies have been conducted to find out more about the relationship between cats and music. Experts continue looking into the phenomenon as we go over said relationship. If you wish to learn more, try playing some of the tracks mentioned earlier and check out the reaction in your cat!