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

By Seriously Science | March 25, 2016 6:00 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
  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    Psychology is a balloon without its skin. Only after it grows sufficiently massive will it self-contain and illuminate – with spin.

  • darryl

    My cats seemed pretty indifferent to this sound clip for what it’s worth.


    • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

      Nothing for my two. Perhaps it should sound like a pop lid being opened or a young rabbit screaming.

  • OWilson

    We obviously need a Research Funding Ombudshuman.

    Oh, the priorities!

  • http://phatsonic.de b_i_d

    So they completely ignored the common knowledge, that music works by emulating fractal formulae at work in the neural networks of our brains?

    I hope the next time they do an experiment like that they start out with ….. a cat scan! *putting on sunglasses*

  • http://mazouzshana.net Mazouz Shana

    I doubt that any self-respecting cat would bother listening, musch less, actually enjoying this ‘noise’. Cats have real taste in music: they would enjoy classical tunes—c.f., Frédéric Chopin, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Giuseppe Verdi, et al.

  • Sacramentaoman

    One of my cats reacted favorably to this music (was unusually affectionate) while the other two were mildly curious. All after four plays.


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Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
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