Does Music And Radio Chat Calm The Nervous Cat?

Music for Cats

Music for Cats

There are a lot of things about cats that we don’t understand. Jo Singer made that point in a recent article and I believe we have to accept and respected it, until and if we know more.



This last 2 hours. Try it and see!


Cats do have a very good sense of hearing. You can buy music online written for cats. But, to be honest, the manufacturers of the music cannot honestly say that they know for sure what sort of music cats likes. Although I do not know for sure, it would seem that the music that one can buy online created for the domestic cat is a little bit too much like modified human music and we may be projecting our thoughts and ideas onto the cat.

Research has been done on how animals in general respond to music and it has been decided that animals do respond to music. I’m not sure that we know for sure that an animal actually likes music. Responding and liking are different, of course.

My own experience is that my cat does respond to the sound of a chat show on the radio. I believe he likes it. Early in the morning when I wake up I turn on the radio and listen to a chat show that covers news and human stories. If my cat is not on my bed at the time, he comes to it after the radio is turned on. My impression is that he thinks that I am talking. Perhaps he thinks that I’m talking to him and calling him. I don’t know. But it would indicate to me that if I am not in my home for a while it may be a good idea to leave the radio on. I have no experience whatsoever of a cat liking music, even music designed for a cat.

However, a recent post in the San Jose Mercury News entitled “Music Charms the Nervous Cat”, a lady, Lisa Morris, states that her cat likes music. She makes that judgement based on her cat’s behaviour when music is being played. She states that her cat, Lizzie, is nervous because of possible past abuse in a previous home. She accidentally discovered that soothing music helped her to calm down. She states that when she has music on her Kindle, Lizzie would come up and lie near the device and it would calm her down.

Also, Lisa noticed that when she was watching television, Lizzie would get up onto the television stand and place herself next to the television. Sometimes she would lie only a few inches away from the speakers. Lizzie, apparently, particularly liked, “The Phantom Of The Opera”. She stayed close to the television throughout this movie.

It seems that the only information that we have about cats liking music is anecdotal, from cat owners. The domestic cat’s auditory range is different to ours. A cat can hear between frequencies of between 45-64,000 Hertz, while the human hears between frequencies of 64-23,000. Mice have very high frequency squeaks that humans cannot hear sometimes, while the cat can, and it is unsurprising that the cat can detect high frequencies because the mice is the primary prey of the domestic cat. It would seem to be agreed that if cats like music it will be completely different to the sort of music that we like.

Some pet behaviorists suggest that we should play music when we are away from our home or leave the radio on. I rarely do this and I wonder how many cat owners do it? Not many, I suspect.

This really is about knowledge and at present we simply do not have sufficient knowledge about cat emotions and their likes and dislikes of the things that people like. There is one certainty: any sounds that we deliberately create for the benefit of our cat should not be too loud because of the cat’s sensitivity to sound.

If we have to rely on cat owner’s anecdotal evidence, we could do worse than reading Amazon reviews. Out of 6 reviews for one cat music CD, two said that their cats liked the music, one said that their cat liked the radio and 3 said that they liked the music! That sums up the situation, in my opinion. We don’t know and on that basis, personally, I would not buy “cat music”. Chat shows on the radio are another matter, however, because we know that the domestic cat responds to human sounds due to socialisation.

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Does Music And Radio Chat Calm The Nervous Cat? — 22 Comments

  1. I think cats do like some music, we have a CD from when we both did Reiki that Walter likes, we often used to put it on when he got himself agitated and he seemed to like to lie and listen to it and calm down, he doesn’t get into such rages now he’s a mature man. Neither of them like loud noises though and if we have anything on TV they don’t approve of they go out, Jozef particularly objects to Call the Midwife and One Born Every Minute, he doesn’t like birthing noises at all.

  2. Some people leave the radio on for their pets while they are out, maybe they think the sound of human voices and music makes them feel less alone.
    I know cats like us to sing to them, Walter likes me to sing ‘the tape measure song’ lol ‘measure his ears, measure his nose, measure his fur, measure his toes’ while he pounces on it.
    Crazy crazy cat lady

  3. Our cats prefer Mozart to Beethoven go figure. They hate rap music- they can’t stand electronic music.

    They also seem to respond favorably to a lot of music by Bach.

    I am listening to this music right now, and to tell you the truth- it is getting me very drowsy. Am I part feline? Thanks for a great article:)

  4. I leave easy listening music on most of the time when I know I’ll be gone longer than a couple of hours.
    Not Bach or Beethoven but more like Johnny Mathis, the things they’re used to hearing here.
    I sing a lot to them too. I’m no Sarah Brightman, but I sing many operas and show tunes. They seem to, especially, like “I dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables.
    They, also, seem to like low volume TV.

    • yea i remember cass when she went though her stage of running away. She loved easy listening. I think even just a low sound music can help them know someone else is there

    • That’s interesting, Dee. I have a feeling that quite a few people who look after cats sing to them and play music for themselves and for their cats. It may be more popular than I had thought. You may have read Jo’s and Lindy’s comments. I certainly believe that our cats like the sound of our voice and certain mellow sounds in the home as they are reassuring. That is about as far as I will go at the moment!

    • Our cats like songs from The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables too and I sing them a lot when I’m on my own with them and working around the house.
      ‘Wishing you were somehow here again’ always hits my heart as it’s one we had at our late mam’s funeral, the packed Church were in tears.
      Both Babz and I sing a lot, all kinds of songs and hymns.
      I had to laugh one day when a neighbour said ‘Ruth was that you singing opera?’ I forgot the door was open lol She said ‘You have a beautiful voice’ How kind 😉

  5. I am a professional singer/songwriter and I can say pretty confidently that all of my animals respond very strongly to my playing and singing.

    Recently I found a feral kitten in the neighborhood and brought her home. Needless to say the house has been a bit stressful with my older female cat and my small female dog trying to acclimate to the new situation especially since I’ve been spending a great deal of time with the kitten trying to calm her and get her used to people and her new comfy life.
    The only thing that calms them all down without fail is when I plug in the microphone and the keyboard and start practicing. When I look around after the first song, they are all curled up somewhere sleeping.

    There’s really no doubt in my mind that they respond well to music. We all do. Everything resonates at different frequencies and some will match, some will clash and some will dance around your head and play with your emotions.
    Animals seem to know so much without having to know anything. It’s us that seem to constantly negate our instincts and we are lucky to have these awesomely cute little reminders in our lives.

    • Hello Lindy. Thanks for visiting and commenting. I enjoyed reading your comment. You make some good points. I like the point you make about animals knowing so much without knowing anything. They allow their instincts to come through. I think when you do that you allow your spirituality to come through and I believe that in the West our lifestyles tend to crush that and ignore it. And I am pleased that you can provide some evidence from personal experience that cats are calmed by music. In your case there may be an added element namely they are hearing your voice and your voice will be calming to them whether you are creating music or not.

      Sorry about your photograph not being published. This is because the size of the file is too large. If you want to bother you can click on the link below the comment box which leads you to easy to understand, quick instructions on how to reduce the size of the image file whereupon you can try again.

    • We had finally managed to trap a feral we called Psycho Cat, for TNR, the people didn’t want her around their property, she was the wildest we’d ever seen and she went crazy in the trap cage. I covered the cage and sat with her singing to her, it calmed her down after a while.
      She was spayed and sent off to a feral farm, where hopefully she was happy to be fed and have her freedom back.

  6. Monty and I have been enjoying what I call our “Beethoven concerts” almost every evening. Jeff has been working late. I have been dealing with debilitating anxiety in the aftermath of my Cipro poisoning. But listening to Beethoven’s music helps. That’s how I dealt with stress as a teen, so it a connection to my past. Some of my Beethoven music is on records! Monty gets all comfy during the music, but every time I have to change the record he sits up and watches. When the music starts he gets comfortable again. I think he really enjoys our evening’s listening. He seems to prefer orchestral music to piano. But who knows? Maybe he just enjoys my company and sleeping up in his cat suspended cat furniture. We have our “concerts” in the back room.

    • Ruth, I am going to put on my Beethoven cd’s, because of you. I hope that this therapy is working for you, for you most certainly darn well deserve to fully recover from that trauma. (I haven’t forgotten what you said.) Monty is well-trained as a classical listener, isn’t he? 😉

      • He seems to respond to faster, more vigorous sections of the music at times. He will run across his little bridges or jump down only to fly back up there. One night I had a record of piano sonatas playing and he came down, sat by me and meowed. I put on orchestral music right after that and he ran up there and got comfortable. He does seem to respond directly to the music and to have preferences. My husband still argues animals don’t have souls. But how could Monty respond to music if he did not have a soul? Music affects the brain, no doubt, but it also speaks to your soul. That’s why it’s so healing.

        • Ruthie, are you thinking that Monty prefers sonatas over a full orchestration? Why would that be?

          you and your husband, and even I, know that cats have souls. They are more intuned to suffering than dogs, and no one nor body should have to experience suffering beyond what they are capable of handling. 3

          • I think he likes the full orchestration. He did not like the piano music. This is just based on my observation, so I could be wrong. We shall see how he responds as we continue our little evening “concerts.”

  7. Okay, first of all, remember that these are averages. Every humna, every cat, has their individual range. I believe that these can vary quite a bit, due to the individual’s cool individuality. 🙂 (for example, Cal can hear far beyond what she is “supposed” to hear in the upper frequencies. My cats seem to vary quite a bit, too. This is an interesting phenomena. The atypical characteristics, I mean.

    Shrimp was most definitely abused on the farm where I was “forced” by the farmer to take him, along with Luna, his female sibling (who I was there for). Shrimpster, for those who don’t know, was immediately, on a Saturday evening, taken to the Emergency Clinic. He barely made it: upper/lower resp. infections and emaciated, big infected wound on the nape of his neck. Anyway, Shrimp ended up happy, shy, busy, highly intelligent and the most laidback ginger tabby you can imagine. And yet, he is very particular about certain things, one of those being his music orientation/likes. Very! particular. Turns out, after I personally tested him as best I could, he does not tolerate the laws nor highs that we appreciate in our classical, opera, rock, country, alternative, bluegrass, celtic, “you name it.” I do know that he is particularly fond of REM and Nick Drake, Frederica von Stade and most Blues. Oh, and he really likes Barry White. although I’m not sure why…? maybe because he doesn’t have a choice? 😉
    FUN article! I will certainly go back now and find wander over to Jo’s earlier mention… <3

  8. I leave the sound off with mine because I want them to hear the birds and things outside. Sometimes at night I put on sounds of birds or rainforest etc because at night its quiet out anyway. But it’s also important they can hear whats going on in the whole apartment.

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