Do Cats Appreciate Music?
I was contacted by a promoter of perhaps the best cat music you can buy on the market. It has been composed “scientifically” by a talented cellist with a distinguished career, David Teie. He has a long list of accomplishments. He is credentials for writing cat music are unsurpassed. If his version of cat music doesn’t work nothing will.
You can play a sample of his cat music on his website. I tested it on my cat who at least responded. He pricked his ears and appeared to listen. The testimonials report similar responses. Perhaps you can try it out yourselves with your cat and report back in a comment. I’d be interested to hear.
His music is based on “his universal theory of music: The idea that music taps directly into our emotional core by remixing the sounds that marinated our developing brains in the womb.” (quoting Sadie Dingfelder in the Washington Post).
David Teie appears to have worked with Dr. Charles Snowdon, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in creating music for cats. There has been an approach to this which is as scientific as can be.
The elephant in the room of cat music is that at the end of the day we don’t know what a cat is thinking or feeling when he/she hears cat music. Responding to it in a variety of ways does not mean a cat enjoys it or is relaxed by it. A cat might seem relaxed during the music but he might be relaxed for other reasons. Being stimulated by the sound of music does not mean the emotional response is enjoyable. In short, it is impossible, I would have thought, to apply hard science to assessing whether cats enjoy music. Currently, with our level of knowledge, I don’t believe you can apply science to be sure one is creating sounds that stimulate cats, can you? Music is about an emotional response. We are still learning about cat emotions and have a long way to go.
Here lies the problem for me. I want to believe that cats hear music and derive emotional benefit from it. It would be great to be able to entertain our cats with music. It would be a wonderful addition to our armoury of ways to enrich the lives of our cats, which can be a bit of a challenge sometimes. But we are not sure what is going on in a cat’s brain when (s)he responds to cat music.
That is the bottom line for me: we don’t know if cats appreciate music no matter how professionally it has been prepared and David Teie’s is probably the best on the market.
It could be argued that even the concept of cat music begs the question whether music is a human invention for the enjoyment of humans. I don’t know the answer to that. I’d like to think that all animals including the human animal have the potential to enjoy music equally; it’s just a question of discovering what type of music certain species prefer. However, I don’t know of any science which has conclusively ascertained that all animals including cats appreciate the concept of music.
I sense that despite the genuine and good intentions to improve the lives of the domestic cat, the development of cat music is driven by the need for humans to make money. That too is a deep, primal and universal theory….
Here is Jo Singer’s take on cat music.
yeah, i think so. i tried the repeating purr sounds in the beginning when we 1st got Lex our 1st kitty. he was 2-3 months old when we got him about 3 yrs ago, & he was anxious. i was worried so i found purring sounds online, downloaded them, & played them on a loop for the 1st few days(& i held me til he fell asleep…til WE fell asleep really). he seemed to like it, but he also tried to find the other kitty. then i read that its important that you try to do your day-to-day as much as possible(work, errands, vacuuming, etc)so they get used to it. which was a good thing cuz it helped ME see all the ways Lex couldve hurt himself, get stuck, etc. my gf was worried about the “do your normal routine thing” cuz im a musician & i tend to listen to music kinda loud.
see i play the drums, which are generally very loud, but i have a half electronic kit so the cymbals are still loud, but the rest dont have to be. whenever im using the electronic parts both of my cats will sometimes stay in the room, but when i start hitting cymbals they both usually leave(though Lex sometimes stays & watches from the shelf beside me or the desk behind me). if im just listening to music(loudly)they stick around pretty much the same way they do when i practice.
i like & listen to all types of music like classical, oldies , rock, new age, pop, neo-classical, progressive, metal, & progressive metal(which is my favorite to practice & sing to). Blake tends to stay in my office more often when i listen to more mellow music. the heavier stuff he could do without. usually, if he is leaving due to the music(& if he realizes its a mix of songs), he leaves slowly, but waits nearby. then when a “preferred” song comes on he will come back in. it was kinda weird at first, but once i figured it out it made sense. it also helped me concretize his breed as being a Nebelung-Tiffanie mix, since theyre more mellow cats. my other cat, Lex, is like me in his musical preferences.
Lex watches me practice most times. he stays in my office no matter what i listen to. he even falls asleep on my desk when im listening to heavyier music like Slayer, or Symphony X. its gotten to the point where i have to check before i try to record my own songs(which is much mellower than the stuff i mainly listen to-think Genesis meets Alice in Chains kinda)because if i dont he will try to sing along. i wish i had a webcam cuz its hilarious! between that, his Curious George attitude, & his semi-prehensile tail pretty much sealed it that hes a Ring-Tail mix.
i guess THAT is my long-winded answer about whether cats are emotionally effected by music or not.
there is another aspect to consider. though i dont doubt THEY have musical preferences-which, like humans are/can be effected by our peers-is it due more so because of our emotional links to our cats OR the emotions it stirs within THEM individually? ive wondered for DAYS about THAT one.
The cats in the video seem to be relaxed by the music.
Sometimes if I’m going to be gone all day, I’ll leave some “cat music” from YouTube on, but I have no idea if it helps Mitzy relax.
It’s something I never thought of doing before this year, probably because I saw it advertised. It’s free on YouTube, which makes it even more appealing.
I have mentioned before that my cat reacts affectionately to me playing a squeezebox (or a recording of it on my phone), however does that mean she appreciates good music…the way I play probably not!