Music just for cats? Do felines actually enjoy these dulcet tones?

Music for cats? Whoever in the world would ever dream up such a unique idea and then go on to create special music in order to tickle a feline’s fancy? But to be more accurate, I think the word should actually be spelled “mewsic”.

Music for Cats
Music for Cats. Photo: Flickr User: Darren Bertram
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There have been many cat loving classical composers who wrote music in honor of the feline species. Frederic Chopin was so inspired by the melody that his kitten created when he ran across his piano keys that he incorporated the notes into an entire piece he named “The Cat Waltz.”

Pulcinella, a cat that owned Domenico Scarlatti, actually co-composed a fugue in pawtnership with her beloved guardian. His cat loved dancing on his harpsichord keys and set the tone for the first three measures of the “Fugue in G Minor”.

But these mewsical compositions were written a very long time ago. Today, we must give credit for adding new dulcet tones to the cat-a-logue of mewsical offerings. According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, Dr. Charles Snowdon, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin- Madison (surely a felineophile) has set out on a rather unique scientific mission to “create music for cats”. Ahem – again, that should be spelled, “Mewsic” or “Meowsic” whichever word you think more appropriate.

In an email to the Huffington Post, Dr. Snowdon wrote,

“We were motivated to make music for cats for two reasons. First, many pet owners told us that they play radio music for their pets while they are at work and we wondered if this had any value. Second, we have developed a theory that suggests that species other than humans can enjoy music but that the music has to be in the frequency range that the species uses to communicate and with tempos that they would normally use.”

First, Dr. Snowdon and his colleagues attempted to imitate sounds that are natural to cats. They used high pitches and sliding notes since cat calls generally tend to exceed an octave higher than the human voice. They also predicated the tempo of the songs they were “composing” by utilizing the sounds of feline suckling and purring.

To discover how the cats would react to the music, the researchers tested their compositions on 47 male and female domestic cats in their home environment. The music they played for the feline test group was “Rusty’s Ballad and “Cozmo’s Air”. For comparison they played two pieces of music written for humans, Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air on a G String” and Gabriel Faure’s “Elegie”.

The bottom line of this mewsical research was that the scientists’ test results were actually truly amazing. Who would have thought that the cats would demonstrate far more interest in the researchers’ “musique-de-chat”? But they certainly responded and displayed their interest in it by turning their heads in the music’s direction, walking closer to it, and in typical feline – claiming behavior – rubbing up against the speaker.

In his email to the “Huffington Post” Snowdon added,

“We interpret this as indicating that the cats showed a preference.”

To sum up the researchers’ results, testing what kind of mewsic cats prefer, Dr. Snowdon told Discovery News, [that]

“We think of cats as highly independent of their human servants, but there is some research showing that cats experience separation anxiety, which is greater in human-raised cats than in feral cats.”

The word will soon be out concerning the incredible work this group of researchers has accomplished. Already accepted for publication in the journal, Applied Animal Behavioral Science is an article describing their research.

Check out whether your cats also agree with the results of this scientific research by exposing them to a few samples. How did they react? Share your results in a comment.

13 thoughts on “Music just for cats? Do felines actually enjoy these dulcet tones?”

  1. First one made fluffy look around, but she took notice of all 3, I’ve never observed her noticing sounds specifically before, but that might have been because I wasn’t looking for it. Interesting though!

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  2. Cats love music. We hear their music constantly and totally miss it. They purr they chirp to one another too. The music of wind and birds and other animals is beautiful music to them. I don’t honestly think they consider it music but I do know that when the breeze is blowing and bird song is in the air the cats lounge in bliss in their enclosure.

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  3. The older Cat listened & watched carefully in the direction of the Speakers, the kitty twitched her ears & started purring. As a hobby-dj who plays electronic Music a lot i can say both of my cats don’t like Techno much (they leave the room), but they enjoy housemusic & they even sit on the Speaker when it comes to trancey tunes. They like Jazz & Classic Music very well. If i sing to a Popsong the older cat starts meowing at me wildly, what could also mean that i better quit singing 🙂 They have different Tastes for sure! I like the Idea of having a CD with Cat Music very much.

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    • I’ll have to start playing music. I don’t play music which is ridiculous. I have not tested if my cat likes certain sorts of music. It is nice that your cats like some kinds of music. Does this prove that cats appreciate music – human music?

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