Scientists make “species-appropriate” music just for cats. Listen here!

By Seriously Science | March 3, 2015 11:53 am
Photo: flickr/jorbasa

Photo: flickr/jorbasa

We know that babies like to dance to music from a very early age. But do other species appreciate our music as much as humans do? These researchers hypothesized that “in order for music to be effective with other species, it must be in the frequency range and with similar tempos to those used in natural communication by each species.” In other words, for maximum effect, music should be tailored to what each species likes to listen to. Here, the scientists made (pretty trippy) music specifically for cats, determining that the cats liked their “species-appropriate” music more than human music. Curious what “cat music” sounds like? Check out a clip below!

Cats Prefer Species-Appropriate Music

“Many studies have attempted to use music to influence the behavior of nonhuman animals; however, these studies have often led to conflicting outcomes. We have developed a theoretical framework that hypothesizes that in order for music to be effective with other species, it must be in the frequency range and with similar tempos to those used in natural communication by each species. We have used this framework to compose music that is species-appropriate for a few animal species.

In this paper we created species-appropriate music for domestic cats and tested this music in comparison with music with similar affective content composed for humans. We presented two examples of cat music in counter-balanced order with two examples of human music and evaluated the behavior and response latencies of cats to each piece. Cats showed a significant preference for and interest in species-appropriate music compared with human music (Median (IQR) 1.5 (0.5-2.0) acts for cat music, 0.25 (0.0-0.5) acts for human music, P <0.002) and responded with significantly shorter latencies (Median (IQR) 110.0 (54-138.75) s for cat music, 171.75 (151-180) s for human music (P< 0.001). Younger and older cats were more responsive to cat music than middle-aged acts (cubic trend, r2 = 0.477, P < 0.001). The results suggest novel and more appropriate ways for using music as auditory enrichment for nonhuman animals.”

Bonus from the main text – cat music clip!

Related content:
Ever wonder what your outdoor cat does all day long? Behold the KittyCam!
Flashback Friday: Optimizing the sensory characteristics and acceptance of canned cat food: use of a human taste panel.
Sorry, you probably don’t understand your cat’s meows.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals
  • Bink

    Original article authors, title, and journal please?

    • noahtron

      did you click the link halfway down the page?

      • Bink

        Hah, oops, thanks!

  • polistra24

    That isn’t music. It’s just a mix of purring and attention-asking mews, with no fight-warning roars. Of course cats liked it.

    Problem with the basic premise is that housecats DO NOT have rhythm or tempo. Nothing in their utterances ever approaches periodicity. Other mammals do have SOME rhythm. Most sounds that could be called “barking”, whether by dogs or seals or lions, are rhythmic.

    • Christina Armstrong-Alvarez

      Pretty sure they don’t consider human music music either

    • DavidMont307

      of course this is music. music doesn’t have to have rhythm. ask any musicologist.

    • HaakonKL

      Considering that 80% of the stuff that’s played in clubs are essentially mating calls, do we humans really have the moral high ground here? 😉

    • Pandorla

      When it comes down to it isn’t all music just purring and attention asking mews?

  • Edward Whalley

    Can’t wait for the album…or the hour on Hearts of Space!!!

  • yogi-one

    Cats – the real reason the internet was invented!

  • Speldwright

    My three year old cat didn’t care for it. I guess she’s more of a heavy meowtal fan.

  • augiemania

    so cats like sigur ros?

  • Lee Valdez

    I have a very odd and intrigued reaction to the cat music. I may be more cat than human.

  • j2saret

    Played it for my cat. It was not cool enough.

  • Theresa Hughes

    My cats like when i sing To them especially opera i think they like the higher pitch of it

  • Older Than Dirt

    Both of mine – on a house and a feral seemed to pay attention – I think the key was the hidden message – FOOD ! : )

  • Al Moghadam

    Meowsic <- it hasn't been named this, and as such has lost my seal of approval. I shall reconsider if it is renamed, but I am just as likely to disappear into the never and think about this maybe once more in my lifetime, by which point I'll be all like "oh yeah, that thing."

  • Meghan Elizabeth McDermott

    My cat loved the clip. Where can I find the rest?

  • Lola Bell

    In the rescue community people have known for a long time that cats love harp music or soundscape type music (comcast channel). Their ears are probably pitched to bird noises so the sweet distinct and high pitched tones would be appealing. Also that music sounds like it has purring noises and thumping/ear scratching noises in it, very much like what kittens in a litter would make while they are all resting and sleeping

  • lanika

    Hmmmmmm that’s interesting. First purring and then suckling-like sounds mixed with the high pitched sounds, playing to their neoteny tendencies.

    I have three very different cats in terms of behavior and response to stuff. The two females (one being a twin to the male) didn’t give a crap about it and the male was startled by it. He disliked it intensely. I had to actually sooth him and pet him to calm him down. Poor guy.

  • Don Ho

    My cat didn’t seem to be interested, but I found that I was really craving canned tuna.

  • Foxhanger

    I’m sure you spoke in jest. This almost gave my cat a heart attack.

  • barthomew

    In the 1950s, people would say this music is for Cool Cats, Daddy-O.

  • barthomew

    There’s also that dual autobiography of young Siamese cats:
    A Tail of Two Kitties.
    Cool Cats, Daddy-O.

  • Hugh Jazzole’

    My Cat Max looked right at my laptop,Loved it.

  • _diana_

    My cat prefers Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson over this


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