We did a post a while back called Do Cats Like Music? We thought it would be fun to revisit and ask more specifically, whether cats enjoy classical music, or any genre in particular?
Perhaps you’ve noticed that Beethoven’s Fur Elise triggers your cat to flick her tail. Or turning on Batman Begins’ Molossus soundtrack makes your cat’s pupils dilate and ears perk up.
If you’ve been wondering about whether cats enjoy music, you’re not alone. Scientists have performed several research studies to get to the bottom of what type of music cats like…if any.
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In May of 2015, Snowdon et al., published a study in Applied Animal Behavior with the headline, “cats prefer species-appropriate music.”
For cats to enjoy music, they claimed, the song must have a familiar tempo and be in the frequency range that cats use to communicate among each other. Thus, the appropriate music for cats would include the mid-to-high-pitched sounds heard in their meows and low-frequency base vibratos heard in their purrs.
As an analogy, the difference between human and cat music might be similar to how Eastern and Western music differ, but on a more extreme scale. The paper even went so far as to create a framework for music-creation per species, and composed a sample song that felines could enjoy.
Here’s a sample song published in the paper called “Cozmo’s Air.” Play it for your cat, and see how he/she reacts.
In order for cats to enjoy music, it must have certain features that they can comprehend. So given all the different music genres, which has similar tones and frequencies that cats most closely relate to?
The closest study to look into this question is one performed by scientists at the University of Lisbon, Portugal. Here, researchers found that cats can feel relaxed or stressed, depending on the genre of music.
This experiment was conducted with 12 cats undergoing surgery. After anesthetization, researchers placed headphones over the cats ears and played a variety of genres including classical, pop, and rock & roll, in two-minute intervals.
Data was collected using a heartbeat monitor on the cat’s tongue, allowing researchers to measure respiratory rate. The other metric taken was pupil diameter. The results were slightly expected. Classical music (Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings), lowered the cats’ heartbeats, and decreased their pupil diameters; this indicated that this genre had a soothing effect.
On the other hand, Rock & Roll (AC/DC’s Thunderstruck) increased heartbeat rates and pupil diameters. Natlie Imbruglia’s Torn proved less effective, having little to no difference when compared to the control of the cats listening to no music.
As a post-study analysis, researchers also found that the cats that listened to classical music throughout the surgery had a quicker recovery time after a visit to the vet.
It sounds like cats, much like humans, become relaxed when listening to classical music, which is probably why there are so many rumors claiming that cats enjoy the classical genre. However, this doesn’t necessarily indicate enjoyment levels, which are much more difficult to measure. Perhaps your feline’s inner likings are towards country pop or rock & roll. The cat below is clearly a Ramones groupie! >^..^<
If you had to guess which songs represents your cat, what would it be? Additionally, do you notice any changes within your cat when turning on different genres of music?
Credit: This article was contributed by Sir Alfredy Wilshire, MD/PhD who is a red tabby from Filey, a small town near the Eastern coast of the UK. He did his schooling at Cambridge University, focusing his research on effects Nepeta cataria and its affects on the COX-2 and IL-1β proteins in the Wnt pathway. He and his hooman now reside in sunny San Diego, semi-retired, splitting his time between blogging at https://cat.snipcademy.com, and listening to Debussy while napping.
If you’re curious to try out the Music for Cats CD by David Teie, you can buy it here or click on the image below.
Drop us a comment in the “Leave a Reply” section below to tell us what type of music your cat prefers.
Our cats like Abba
My 4 cats love my mood music I call it. It’s bird’s chirping babbling brooks the rain forest sounds stuff like that. They have listened to this type of music since they were born and they all have a great disposition.
My cat loves all classical especially Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and Fur Elise
My cat likes background noise ; pure silence seems to make him anxious. So I stream our local (Boston) classical music station on my computer and keep the volume low enough to be “background” level. Whether he actually “likes” this –or– has made an association with this as a daily habit , he almost instantly settles down for a long nap when it put the music on. Cats seem to like a lot of predictable structure and regularity to their environments (or maybe my guy is just neurotic that way). But soft-volume classical always works.
I have a female cat whose eyes were removed because of infection when she was less than 6 weeks old. The vet also spayed her at the same time.
Her behavior indicates that she still has a bit of hormone-producing tissue and really quite likes being a girl cat.
My wife plays piano and has recently started working on Bach inventions. Minnie the blind cat LOVES Bach, sings along, and rolls around like a dope. I would never have guessed that kitties have a propensity for one piece of music over another, but Minnie proves the point.
Fazil Say’s performance of “Moonlight Sonata” is brilliant! Please check it out on YT. Both my kitties are calmed by this piece. We listen to it every morning and share purrs and pets. I finally thought to play it (twice through), on a 20 minuted drive to our vet’s office, and there was not a single yowl. >^..^<