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What Music do Cats Like?

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: August 22, 2019
What Music do Cats Like?

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We all know how therapeutic music can be and using this form of therapy for cats could be a no-brainer for some, but do cats like music? Thanks to numerous studies and scientific experiments, it’s safe to say that some cats enjoy specific types of music. However, understanding cat senses and cat hearing facts is key when it comes to analyzing this topic. If cats like specific types of music, which genre of music are we talking about exactly? Do cats like classical music, rap or metal? And, if cats hear differently to humans, then how do cats interpret human music?

For more about whether or not cats like music, or rather, which music cats like, keep reading here at AnimalWised.

You may also be interested in: Why Do Cats Like Boxes?

Do cats like music: cat hearing

Cars rely largely on their sense of smell to communicate. However, according to experts, cats also use hearing and sound as a way of expressing or feeling. In fact, cats have the ability of vocalizing 12 different sounds which all vary in meaning. But what’s important to understand is that cats hear differently to humans. A cat’s sense of hearing and/or way of detecting sound is incredibly intricate and can be measured through both duration, frequency and intensity.

In order to understand why or how cats hear, let’s take a look at this measurement in hertz. Hertz is the unit of frequency of a vibratory movement which in this case is sound. The level of hertz per species vary, for example:

  • Wax moth: (the highest quality auditory), up to 300 kHz.
  • Dolphins: from 20 Hz to 150 kHz (seven times more than humans).
  • Bats: from 50 Hz to 20 kHz.
  • Dogs: from 10,000 to 50,000 Hz (four times more than humans).
  • Cats: from 30 to 65,000 Hz. (Explains a lot, right?).
  • Humans: between 20 Hz up to 20,000 Hz (most acute).

Understanding cat behavior as a cat owners is key in making sure your cat lives a happy and healthy life. Discover how do cats communicate here!

What Music do Cats Like? - Do cats like music: cat hearing

Do cats like classical music: what cats hear

So, do cats like music or not? Well, it depends. When trying to understand how cats hear and what cats like to listen to, we need to look at exactly how cats associate various sounds. For example, when cats hear high-pitched sounds (close to 65,000 Hz) it corresponds to calls of kittens for their mothers or siblings. However, more serious sounds (those of less Hz) are associated with adult cats on alert that feel threatened.

One of the most interesting facts when it comes to cat sound and hearing is that a cat’s ‘‘meow’’ is actually an ‘invention of animal domestication.’ What we mean by this is that a cat’s ‘meow’, if it weren’t for their need to communicate with humans, should technically disappear after being weaned. The meow is not a standard form of feline communication and is mainly only used by kittens who need their mother’s attention. Meows are short sounds of 0.5 to 0.7 seconds that can reach up to 3 or 6 seconds, depending on the severity of need from the kitten.These ‘kitten calls’ are usually voiced in cases of cold, hunger or danger. Studies show that cold calls can also occur up to 4 weeks of life and are usually the most acute. Calls of solitude are usually longer in duration and maintained, while those of confinement hold greater gravity.

A cat’s purr, unlike kitten calls, is usually maintained throughout its life. A cat’s snorts or grunts, which are more serious tones, indicate a threat or concern. And then we also have a cat’s mating call, which are more prolonged forms of vocalizations[1].

Are you interested in finding out what each cat sound means in more detail? If so, take a look at our article where we discover the 11 sounds cats make and what they mean.

What Music do Cats Like? - Do cats like classical music: what cats hear

Species-appropriate music: music for cats

Many applied animal behavior scientists have also begun replicating cat sounds in order to offer felines ‘species-appropriate music’. Species-appropriate music is a genre that is based off of natural cat vocalization that has been matched with music of the same frequency range. The aim of this such study was to use music as a way of auditory enrichment for a nonhuman ear, and according to studies, it has proven to be successful[2].

Within this realm of animal music therapy we also find that there are some classical musicians, such as Felix Pando, who offer specific "Classical music for dogs and cats" (which can be downloaded online).

For more, you may also be interested in knowing which sounds to avoid when it comes to our precious felines. Discover them in our article, what sounds do cats hate?

Do cats like music?

In conclusion, we recommend offering your cat ‘species-appropriate’ music to enjoy. However, if not possible, we can garner that classical music is a preferred music genre for cats. But why? This is because cats tend to enjoy harmonic sounds and softer genres of music as it maintains relaxation.

It’s also important to remember that some cats may not be able to associate with human music, unless it falls within an appropriate frequency range which is specific to a cat’s ear. Several studies actually show that some cats prefer silence over human music.

Want to test this theory? Try out our video from AnimalWised YouTube!

If you want to read similar articles to What Music do Cats Like?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

References

1 Schötz, S., Eklund, R., & van de Weijer, J. (2016, June). Melody in human–cat communication (meowsic): Origins, past, present and future. In Proceedings of Fonetik (Vol. 13, p. 15). http://lup.lub.lu.se/search/ws/files/30581504/schoetz_eklund_vdweijer_.pdf

2 Chiandetti, C. (2016). Commentary: Cats prefer species-appropriate music. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 594. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848712/

Bibliography

1 Schötz, S., Eklund, R., & van de Weijer, J. (2016, June). Melody in human–cat communication (meowsic): Origins, past, present and future. In Proceedings of Fonetik (Vol. 13, p. 15).

Chiandetti, C. (2016). Commentary: Cats prefer species-appropriate music. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 594

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