For so many people, music is a source of relaxation, entertainment, and joy. Simply listening to a specific song can change our entire mood and outlook on a situation.
But what about cats? As an important and consistent part of your life, your cat has undoubtedly been exposed to music, most likely several different genres.
And while your cat might share your opinions about certain foods or which spot on the couch is the comfiest, have you ever wondered if she also shares your taste in music? Cats have exemplary hearing, but how does that translate into whether or not they enjoy rhythmic sounds?
The answers to these questions aren’t as straightforward as we’d hope. Recent studies, however, give insight into how cats feel about music.
What Kind of Music Do Cats Like?
Like so many other things in life, music is completely subjective. Your favorite song might be nails on a chalkboard to your next door neighbor. Humans all have different opinions when it comes to music, and the same goes for cats. Studies suggest that, in general, yes, many cats do enjoy music.
The caveat, however, is that most felines don’t appreciate human music in the way we think they do. Instead, cats respond best to music that is specifically composed for them.
Music to Your Cat’s Ears
While cat owners can rely on general observation to determine how a cat feels about music, researchers have given us scientific evidence. A study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science found that cats respond best to species-appropriate music, especially when compared to popular human music.
In the study, 47 domestic cats were first exposed to cat-targeted songs that were specifically composed to match the frequency range in which cats hear best and in tempos that most often occur naturally with feline communication.
Researchers observed the cats while the music was playing and noted specific behaviors that indicate how the cats were feeling.
Next, they repeated the experiment with two “human” songs.
After evaluating the data, they concluded that the cats showed a “significant preference for and interest in” the music that was specifically composed for them.
During the observations, the majority of the cats responded to the cat music by purring, rubbing against the speakers, and turning their heads toward the source of the sounds. Few of the cats responded at all to the two human songs.
While this study can’t prove once and for all that cats prefer a certain type of music, it has encouraged pet people to change up their daily soundtracks. Search for “cat music” on Google or YouTube, and you’ll find plenty of samples that should be music to your cat’s ears.
Many of the songs incorporate chirps, squeaks, and chimes that cats respond to. A specific song entitled “Cosmo’s Air” was composed to match the tempo of a cat’s purr as most cats seems to like meditation music.
Why Do Cats Like Music?
We can’t begin to understand why cats enjoy types of music until we consider why our own human brains respond emotionally to certain sounds. Why we like music is a question that many scientists have considered, but we still don’t have an exact answer.
A study published in Nature Neuroscience reports that listening to music triggers a release of the chemical called dopamine that makes us feel happy.
This sensation might work as a form of positive reinforcement that makes the human (and feline) brain more responsive to certain music.
Other theories suggest humans like music because it is a pattern. Humans evolved to notice patterns as a survival strategy. This inclination could have progressed beyond survival and explain why both people and cats are attracted to familiar sounds.
In the wild, cats rely on patterns to signal when danger is near and when food or water is nearby. It’s possible their brains evolved to also appreciate those patterns even outside the realm of survival.
Additionally, studies show music can physically affect the body in positive ways. It can lower stress levels and regulate a heartbeat. Psychologically, music can evoke feelings of peace, excitement, and connection to others.
A study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery looked at how certain music can help cats feel calmer in stressful situations, specifically during vet visits.
Overall, cats are more than capable of appreciating good music. The right song can improve their mood, reduce their stress, and provide entertainment. The trick is playing music that is attuned to their specific preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of music do cats hate?
While studies show that cats prefer music that is in their ideal frequency range and at a specific tempo, observational studies show they are fairly indifferent to other types of “human” music.
Most cats ignore all genres of music and don’t seem to have strong opinions about it, whether that be negative or positive. It’s safe to assume, however, that some cats (especially the more timid types) do not appreciate music with sudden, startling, or grating sounds.
How do you know if a cat likes a song?
If you want to know how your cat feels about a specific song, pay attention to their body language. If they’re enjoying the music, they might stretch out into a relaxing position and start purring. They could also seek out the source of the music, rub against it, or simply direct their ears and gaze toward the speakers.
Can music calm cats?
A 2019 study found that music can be an effective tool in calming cats, as long as it’s the right kind of music. When cats were exposed to cat-specific music during veterinary exams, they behaved noticeably calmer than when they endured similar exams in both silence and while listening to music written for human ears.
Can cats hear music?
Yes, not only that cats can hear music but various studies show music can physically affect the body in positive ways. It can lower stress levels and regulate a heartbeat. Psychologically, music can evoke feelings of peace,
Why do cats react to Egyptian music?
The frequency and sensation generated from Egyptian music works as a form of positive reinforcement that makes the human (and feline) brain more responsive to certain music.
Do cats like classical music?
While every cat is different it has been noted that some cats do enjoy classical music.