Music for cats is not a novelty; it is for real! A recent study published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science offers evidence that cats respond to specific types of music geared towards their hearing range, familiar tones, favorite sounds, plus a variety of other factors.
A team of researchers and musician/composer David Teie collaborated and developed music for cats written in three distinct styles.
Dr. Charles Snowdon, lead author of the study and a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explained to Discovery News the development and theory that went behind creating music for cats.
“Here we found that cats showed orientation and approach behavior toward the speaker with the cat music often rubbing against the speaker while the music was on.”
Dr. Snowdon worked with Megan Savage and Teie in creating music for cats. The Huffington Post received an email from Dr. Snowdon explaining two basic reasons why his team of researchers was motivated to create music for cats.
First, the scientists wondered if playing music while pet owners were away from home had any effect on their feline friends. Second, the researchers had a theory that aside from humans, other species might enjoy music as long as it is in the range of frequency the species uses to communicate and is at a tempo the group is most familiar with.
Dr. Snowdon elaborated further.
“We looked at the natural vocalizations of cats and matched our music to the same frequency range which is about an octave or more higher than human voices. We incorporated tempos that we thought cats would find interesting; the tempo of purring in one piece and the tempo of suckling in another; and since cats use lots of sliding frequencies in their calls the cat music had many more sliding notes than the human music.”
The researchers played the music to 47 domestic felines in their homes and in the presence of their owners. The researcher compared the cat’s reactions to human music; highly-rated music most people find very pleasing: Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air on a G String” and Gabriel Fauré’s “Elegie.”
It turns out the cats showed little interest and pretty much ignored the classical music by Bach and Fauré. However, when the music for cats was played the pets started rubbing their heads against the speakers.
Prior research on domestic cats determined they have scent glands on various parts of their body. These glands are located on each side of their head, along their tails, and between their front paws, for example. When a cat rubs these scent gland areas on someone or something, the animals are staking a claim on the individual or object.
When music for cats was played to the pet, they reacted by rubbing against the speakers. The researchers claim this reaction is an indication that the animal is claiming the music. On the other hand, when Bach and Fauré were played, the animals did not rub against the speakers.
Music for cats is designed and created to pique a cat’s’ interest. The creators wrote the music to appeal to domestic cats and recorded the music on traditional instruments, using a human voice, and in three specific styles.
Samples of the music for cats include the following examples. The composer, David Teie created the short piece “Spook’s Ditty” as a musical form of catnip to arouse a cat’s curiosity.
Music for cats’ “Cozmo’s Air” has a rhythm of 1,380 beats per minute, similar to a cat’s purr. Teie composed “Rusty’s Ballad” to provide a feline music suckling sound to instill a sense of peace and tranquility.
The creators of music for cats expressed their intentions of delving into creating more music specific to the need to soothe stressed-out cats in animal shelters.
[Featured image courtesy of Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images]