For many pet owners, playing music for their puss when they are out and about is an essential part of their care routine. Additionally, some cat parents may also use music to soothe their pet when they are at home – but is there a particular type of music that your moggy will listen to?
In this article, we are going to be looking at whether cats like classical music and how using music can lower your pet’s stress levels significantly.
Do Cats Like Classical Music?
When we think of cats, our minds may wander to the image of a chic, elegant, and even regal creature – this is perhaps owing to the cat’s royal status in certain civilizations such as the ancient Egyptians. But this could also be down to the natural characteristics of this animal.
Along with this, it can be hard to picture your puss rocking out to an ACDC album or head-bobbing along to the latest Snoop Dogg track – it’s far more reasonable to think that cats might like the soothing melodies and relaxed harmonies of classical music. But is there any truth to this notion?
According to Classic FM, who wrote a piece on how studies have shown the type of music that cats love – classical music, Barbers Adagio for Strings, in particular, was highly favored by the felines that were tested. In the same study, these animals were exposed to the aforementioned rock music of Australian legends, ACDC, and another Aussie pop favorite, Natalie Imbruglia – it was shown that neither of these pieces of music had a dramatic effect on the cats.
For the sake of animal safety, it is important to note that all of the kitties that took part in this study were sedated and the effects of the music registered on their natural reflexes such as pupil dilation and heart rate.
So, it would appear that our feline friends do have a penchant for Puccini and a love for Liszt, but that is merely one study – is there any conflicting evidence to suggest that cats prefer classical music over all other genres?
Why Do People Play Music To Their Cats?
There are many reasons why people use music to help their pets – one of the main is during times where the owner is absent. If the cat feels abandoned, alone, or bored, playing some music can help to relieve these feelings.
Moreover, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that certain pieces of music can cause your cat to feel more relaxed, and playing these during stressful situations could cause the cat to feel calmer.
Studies On Cats And Classical Music
According to the doctor who performed the study that we have discussed, cats in his vet’s surgery seemed to appear far calmer and more relaxed when classical compositions were played in the background compared to those who were treated in silence. But, as we mentioned, these are the findings on just one individual and a single group of cats.
However, it may be surprising to hear that there have been many other similar studies that have exposed our furry companions to various styles of music and it would seem that the results are pretty similar across the board.
In one study, conducted by Louisiana State University, cats were played various pieces of music whilst undergoing veterinary check-ups. This included classical music and tunes that had been specifically composed for felines. Additionally, these test subjects were also treated in silence.
The results were unanimous, the cats had lower stress levels when the music for cats was being played – and you may think that this trashes the idea that they prefer classical music. However, when you learn that this music was composed and played by a man who is part of the local Philharmonic orchestra, it isn’t easy to see what style this music would have been in.
How Does Classical Music Help Cats?
When we look at the results of the various studies that have taken place on cats and classical music, we see that this genre has a calming effect on the kitties.
Primarily, we notice that when the cats listen to this type of music, their heart rates are significantly lowered and their rate of breathing becomes less erratic – this is especially true when we look at a cat who is in a stressful situation, such as at the vets. Furthermore, the animals who were tested in these studies experienced smaller pupils during classical pieces, another indication that they felt more calm and relaxed with this background noise.
In many cat kennels around the world, classical music is played since it is strongly believed that this creates a much more soothing and relaxed atmosphere for the animals. In situations like this, where they are separated from their owners and away from home, cats can become on the edge and temperamental but the introduction of classical music could be a viable way to keep them feeling secure.
What About Other Types Of Music?
Whilst there is no suggestion that your cat will run and hide if you play your favorite rap, rock, pop, or dance tracks, there is little evidence that these genres have a similar effect. Unless you turn the speakers up to full volume, your cat will likely pay very little attention to any music that you play.
However, the cat-specific tracks and classical music we have talked about may get a reaction from your pet. You may notice that their ears perk up or that they seem to pay more attention. Furthermore, many cat owners have reported that their cats become so soothed during a rendition of Mozart or Brahms that they find it much easier to drift off to sleep – but we all know that isn’t much of a challenge for our cats!
In one of the studies, taken at Lison University, when the cats were played the rock and pop music samples, it was noted that their heart rate increased and their pupils dilated – both symptoms being closely associated with stress and a state that is as far from relaxation as possible. But when we consider that these upbeat types of music are made for humans to dance to, this comes as very little surprise.
What Does Music For Cats Need To Sound Like?
When we think about creating a musical composition for a cat, it can be something of a challenge. As humans, we create and enjoy music based on the way that we communicate – for example, many musicians write about love, something that all humans can relate to in one way or another. Yet penning a heartfelt breakup song for a cat is unlikely to have the emotional effect that it might have on their human counterparts.
That being said, it doesn’t mean that cats don’t have a particular need when it comes to music – there are ways that they can be stimulated and affected by a song in the same way that we can. It just requires a slightly different approach.
Composing a piece of music for a cat starts with the frequencies that are most appealing to them. For starters, cats have far more sensitive hearing than we do – humans are able to hear frequencies between 64 and 24,000hz when we compare this to a cat’s 45 – 64,000hz, it isn’t difficult to see whose hearing is superior.
For this reason, frequency should be kept in mind for the cat composer. However, whilst we don’t necessarily need to write music that is outside of our own hearing capabilities, it is important to think about the sounds that cats make to communicate.
During the studies that demonstrated cats enjoying music that was designed for them, it was noted that low bass frequencies, such as those heard in a cat’s purr and mid to high range frequencies like those in their meowing, is preferable when making music for them. Furthermore, the tempo and beat of the music should be something that is familiar and enjoyable to a cat. This is another reason that classical music may be appealing to the puss since it features many of these qualities.
But perhaps what is most remarkable, and maybe coincidental is that the cats who were exposed to classical music during a surgical procedure were seen to recover much faster than those who weren’t. Could there be a correlation between feeling relaxed during the procedure and how quickly they can recover? Further studies would need to be conducted in order to determine this.
So, Is Classical Best For Cats?
It is difficult to say whether cats actually like classical music without having the ability to ask them directly – and science and technology is a long way from creating something that will allow us to converse with our kitties. However, whilst your cat may not have a personal preference when it comes to what is playing on the radio, their reflexes and reactions might tell a different story.
For cats, the effect that music has on their bodies appears to be far more primitive than our complex emotional reactions when we hear a specific piece. If music makes your pet feel relaxed and at ease, she will likely remain in the room. In contrast, if you play a piece of music that offends your cat and causes her to feel stressed, she is more likely to bolt.
Cats are extremely complex creatures and require in-depth care if they are to feel secure and relaxed. One way that pet owners and vets suggest achieving this is through music – but do cats like classical music or will any genre do the trick?
There have been plenty of studies that show the effects that various types of music have on our moggies and classical music appears to have a positive effect. This could be seen as a fluke had it been that only one study was conducted, but thanks to the wealth of information discovered by scientists all over the world, it isn’t hard to see that the results are conclusive. Cats do respond in a more positive manner when classical music is played to them.
Whilst your cat might not be begging for tickets to the next London Symphony Orchestra performance, he may react in a far better way than if he is exposed to loud metal music. Why not try playing some soothing Bach or calming Beethoven and see how your cat reacts?