Know the music your cat likes to listen!


We all must have seen videos of ‘cats’ playing Mozart on the internet, but they are all doctored. In fact, cats do not like the music we hear. Here’s what cats like to hear.

Bibliophiles may be acquainted with the Roald Dahl’s short story Edward the Conqueror, in which a pet

pallavi Bhattacharya

cat with a silver coat, listens to Hungarian composer Franz Liszt’s Petrarch Sonnets with rapt attention. Why? He is a reincarnation of the maestro.
In reality, cats cannot appreciate the music that generally humans like to hear. Cats may seem apathetic to music for humans or yowl at certain kinds of music which are a pain to their ears.

Cat specific music
What may be the reason for this? Humans prefer music to be within their vocal range and have a rhythm similar to a homo sapiens’ heartbeat. A research carried out by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA, proved that cats loved music indeed, but just the kind tailored for them. Charles Snowdon, a professor of Zoology and Psychology and Megan Savage, who was then an undergraduate student, played on laptop songs for cats composed by David Teie from the University of Maryland. The felines didn’t respond favourably when classical tunes for humans were played. When cat specific music was played, they brushed their faces on the speakers, which clearly indicated that they were enjoying it. Middle aged cats savoured the music less than younger and older cats.
It’s easier to make music for felines than for the canine species. This is because every dog breed likes a different kind of music. Domestic cats are of the same or similar breeds, therefore have alike vocalisations. Persians and the Siamese may be the two cat breeds, who have different vocalisations from the mainstream cat breeds. Most cats like the same kind of music. They are able to detect even one
out-of-tune note.

High pitched
Cat’s voices are an octave higher than the voices of humans. They have a higher hearing range than dogs. Music for them is hence high pitched. Cats would rather not listen to music with human sounds. Instead, they prefer music with feline sounds. Cats like the sound of kittens suckling a cat very soothing, that’s a favoured sound used in cat oriented music. Other sounds incorporated are mimics of the tonal variations of the rhythmic purr. As research indicates that cats like to listen to birds chirping, sounds which resemble bird calls are a part of the music as well.

Unique blend
Cats relish music, which interweaves sounds that they are acquainted with when they prowl for a prey. They will perk their ears when they hear sound that reminds them of catching mice. Male mice are especially frisky and restless, their scurrying will elicit considerable attention of the cat. Cats also like to play with balls, as the bouncing of a ball seems very much like a mouse leaping. David Teie is currently working on making music for cats, which includes cats’ favourite sounds when they are on a predatory mission. Cats both rest and engage in activities like playing and hunting. That’s why David’s music will be a mix and match of the sounds cats hear when in repose and also while active.

On, you’ll be able to listen to samples of music for cats created by David. Sounds of feline communication and environmental sounds that are of interest to cats have been blended. Traditional musical instruments and voices of humans have been used in the composition. Though it may seem to you that you are listening to original cat, mouse and bird sounds; they have been done by mimicry.

Kitty Ditties are brisk and playful cat melodies to garner the attention of the cat. David feels that when he’ll be able to upgrade to ultrasonic playback devices, cats will find it all the more appealing. Cat Ballads are composed of sound bytes, which are like kittens drinking milk from their mother. Both cats and humans should find this stress relieving. Feline Airs is an amalgamation of purr like sounds, in the beat of real purrs. The sound bytes for cats on, aren’t the kind of melodious or harmonious music that humans like to hear, but aren’t discordant to their ears either. They seem a compilation of various sounds, including white noise, when judged on human parameters. If you want to play music which will calm both you and your cat, you may Google for the series: Relax My Cat: Soothing Music Designed for Cats. There are cat lullabies, music for the emotional relaxation of pregnant cats, tunes to relieve a cat’s stress in a scorching summer, music to make sick cats feel better, kids’ melodies for kittens, etc.

Contradictory information
Veterinarian Miguel Carreira pens an opposing theory in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. Her finding was that her cat patients were far calm and composed when classical music for humans was played. She had noticed that cats liked all kinds of classical pieces, especially George Handel tunes. Her cat patients breathed easier when listening to classical and pop music during neutering surgeries. Heavy metal however
stressed them.

Coming back to cat specific music, though it’s still in its infancy, intensive research is being conducted on it. Maybe in a few years, books with musical notations for cat tunes, will be widely available.