Do cats like being sung to?

Do cats like being sung to? The answer, as per the Infographic, is that it depends on a number of factors. You can’t just accept the scientific answer which is that domestic cats don’t like human music and therefore they don’t like their owner singing to them. That’s too simplistic. Human singing can be noise to a cat. It might create anxiety. Or it might be a calming sound.

Perhaps the best way to answer the question as to create some scenarios and then speculate how a domestic cat might respond.

Do cats like being sung to?
Do cats like being sung to? Infographic by MikeB at PoC.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Scenario one

Your cat is on your lap. You are petting your cat. At the same time, you are humming or gently singing because you are happy and singing makes you feel better. Your cat companion enjoys your petting because they love your company. You have a bond and so petting is a physical connection and a reinforcement of that bond. Your cat associates the gentle singing with the pleasure of the petting and being on your lap. It’s a package. Under these circumstances it is very difficult to say anything other than that your cat enjoys your singing.

Scenario two

You have a nice voice and you like to use it. You are singing loudly around the home. You’ve just adopted a new cat who is settling in. Your cat has never heard you sing before and is disturbed by this new “noise”. To a domestic cat singing can be noise. Science has found that we can create music which cats prefer. It’s been decided that conventional music which humans like is not necessarily liked by domestic cats.

Scenario three

You have a very close relationship with your cat. You are a musician and you like to sing. Your home is infused with the sound of song and music. Your cat associates you, the person they know who is safe and who is a provider, as a person who also creates sound, a particular type of sound. As they like you and have bonded with you, they accept and indeed like the sound. You come as a package.

Scenario four

A friend of yours comes to your house and your cat being quite confident jumps onto his lap. He decides to sing to your cat. His voice is quite strong. Your cat is disturbed by it and jumps off. The sound is unfamiliar to your cat. It’s not particularly pleasant to him. At a certain volume singing might sound like shouting to a cat. Domestic cats have sensitive hearing. They don’t like shouting and loud noises.

Conclusion

It depends. I sometimes sing to my cat. Well, it’s not singing. More like humming but just making pleasant sounds which are not that different from my spoken voice. He knows my spoken voice and he associates it with comfort, food and pleasantness. And therefore, my gentle singing is fine with him. He might even like it. We’re not going to know for certain. We have to speculate.

Singing should be gentle, quiet and accompanied by gentle and loving petting. Under these circumstances there must be a high chance of success and singing might then reinforce the petting and the bond.

Social media stories

As I said, we have to speculate and look to anecdotal evidence as to whether cats enjoy being sung to. One social media user said: “My cat seems to like it. She moves up close and is very affectionate. I think she hears it as a kind of meow”.

Another social media user, Anna Hamilton, on Quora.com remarked: “Mine doesn’t. Whenever I sing in her presence her expression clearly tells me that I’m off key, I have an awful voice, I choose dreadful songs (Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi) and I should be doing something useful like brushing her”. The lady is speculating and having a joke about it but clearly her cat doesn’t really like it. Perhaps it’s too loud for her cat and not intimate enough.

Depends on the cat

Once again, we are reminded that each cat has their own individual personality, likes and dislikes. Some do and some don’t like being sung to. Jennifer Donovan says this about her cats: “Most of mine over the years have been okay with it, some even coming into the room when I begin singing. However, of the current two, Blaze looks like she’d rather I wouldn’t do it, but won’t actually leave. Minx doesn’t like it. She looks worried at first then runs over and puts a paw on my knees with a distinctly anxious look.”

I think that quite nicely sums it up. Finally, in an effort to try and find some science on this, I searched Google Scholar for a study on the topic and, as expected, there are none. We are reliant, as I’ve stated, on anecdotal evidence and personal experiences.

Below are some articles on music for cats.

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