We fabulous felines, just like people, love soothing music. Scientists and musicians have collaborated and found that music made for cats helps lower our stress levels. I know I love it!
Music designed especially for the feline ear and instincts has tweets, twitters, and chirps, along with sounds from human instruments. The sounds range from low to high frequencies, with specific tempos and rhythms. It imitates purring and other cat sounds, along with squeaks of mice, birds and other critters.
Science & Your Cat’s Musical PREFERENCES
Studies have been done with people music (from classical to heavy metal) to see how it affects cats. These didn’t work out very well and the results were often conflicting and unclear. Hey, have you ever known us cats to be anything but mysterious?
In 2015 a scientific paper was published by Charles T. Snowdon, Megan Savage (Dept. of Psychology, University of Wisconsin), and David Teie, a cellist and academic (School of Music, University of Maryland). It was about a study they did on the responses of cats to special music.
David Teie created music using frequencies, tones, and tempos cats are familiar with in their daily lives. This includes purring, suckling, meows, squeaks of prey, and other sounds communicated to each other and people.
In this study, they used both this special music and similar human music to study the reactions of cats. Both types of music were similar in expected response, like soothing, relaxing music.
The scientists had the cats listen to two different examples of each type of music (cat and human). They evaluated both the cats’ behavior and the time it took for them to react to the music. Examples of possible reactions would be indifference, interest, rubbing the speakers, hissing, moving away, meowing, hiding. The results showed the cats significantly preferred the cat music to human music. An interesting point is that younger and older cats responded more than middle aged cats.1“Cats Prefer Species-Appropriate Music” by Charles T. Snowdon, Megan Savage, and David Teie, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Vol. 166, May 2015, pp. 106-111
Cats-Only Music & Vet Visits
Another study was published in 2019 conducted by scientists at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University. It was designed to see if stress levels in cats are affected by silence, classical people music, and “cat-specific” music. It was of particular interest to test this in the high-stress environment of a veterinarian’s office.
The scientists used three measurements to determine results during three different vet exams over a two week period. They are “…cat stress scores (CSSs), lower mean handling scale scores (HSs) and reduced neutrophil:lymphocyte ratios (NLRs) in cats during physical examinations”.2“Effects of Music on Behavior and Physiological Stress Response of Domestic Cats in a Veterinary Clinic” by Amanda Hampton, Alexandra Ford, Roy E. Cox, III, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, Feb. 12, 2019, PubMed In one exam there was no music, another had classical and the third had music made for cats.
The results showed the stress and handling scores were significantly lowered with cat music vs. silence or classical music. The NLR physiological measurement showed no difference between any of them.
They concluded that hearing music made for cats before and during a vet exam has a calming effect. This could be helpful in that setting and other stressful situations. Their specific measurements showed behavioral but not physiological changes in the cats.
It’s exciting to think of the possible uses this music might have for my fellow kitties. It could help us relax in scary places like shelters and transport vehicles. It’ll be interesting to know if anybody’s trying this in combination with pheremones…hmm.
David Teie’s Work
David Teie, who created the music for the 2015 study, has an interesting website where you can find out more. As far as I could find, he’s the only one making music for the feline ear from a scientific base.
Mr. Teie donates his music to shelters and vet offices who don’t practice declawing of cats. This video is an example of David Teie’s music for us felines to enjoy. You can find out more at this website.
Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary. Primary are always preferable and have the most reliable information because primary sources are original and directly referenced. Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.
Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own, however, sometimes they refer to primary sources. Thus, when I use secondary sources most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.
List of Sources
“Cats Prefer Species-Appropriate Music” by Charles T.Snowdon, Megan Savage, Dept. of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, and David Teie, School of Music, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Vol. 166, May 2015, Pages 106-111,
David Teie’s Music for Cats, https://www.musicforcats.com/
“Effects of Music on Behavior and Physiological Stress Response of Domestic Cats in a Veterinary Clinic” by Amanda Hampton, Alexandra Ford, Roy E Cox, III, First Published February 12, 2019, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, Find in PubMed,