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Bengal cat sitting on a piano while it's being played.

Do cats like music?

5 min read

As humans we love music, but do our cats feel the same? Find out how your furry friend feels about music and the research behind it with Purina.

We all like to make our pets happy, and we’ve all seen those adorable YouTube videos of our favourite superstar kitties rocking out on the piano!

Listening to music can provide mental stimulation, a sense of contentment, or even just a relaxing background vibe—for humans! So it makes sense that we would want to share one our favourite pastimes with our pets—but do cats like music? And are they getting anything out of listening to it?


Do cats like music?

Have you ever tried to play your favourite song for your cat? You might have noticed that, no matter how hard the beat drops, your cat shows little to no interest in the music that you are playing to them.

In rare circumstances, some cats have found specific music to be calming. Occasionally, cat shelters will choose to play classic music to their residents, believing that it creates a soothing atmosphere. Although cats don’t run away from music (unless you turn it up very loud!), there isn’t a lot of evidence to show that this is the case. If the cats listening to classical music are lying around having a snooze, it’s probably more likely that they were ready for a catnap, rather than lulled to sleep by the likes of Mozart!

The research

It seems that scientists are cat lovers too, and some of them are doing research into the music cats like—if any at all! A recent study published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science looked deeper into the science of exactly what cats like about music.

The research shows that although cats don’t demonstrate any particular preference for the music that their owners listen to, that doesn’t mean that they’re indifferent to music altogether. In fact, music for cats seems to be quite a big thing! It’s all about how we communicate: the music that we make and like as human beings is based on our language, and how we interact with the world around us. You might have noticed that language and interaction is totally different for us than it is for our feline friends!

So although your pet might not seem that into Jay Z or find Bach so relaxing, that doesn’t mean they don’t like music altogether. It just means that the music cats like is different to what humans like!


Music for cats

So what is about human music that cats don’t seem to get? Or more importantly, how can we start to make music for cats that does appeal to them?

The discovery that music is species specific is helping researchers to identify exactly what it is about certain kinds of music that makes it appropriate for different species. The music that we enjoy as humans uses tempos that are similar to beat of a human heart; it also falls into a scale of vocal and acoustic range that we can process.

Cats have a different biological make up and different senses to people, so it is understandable that the music that would appeal to them has vastly different qualities. Researchers are still looking into exactly what kind of music cats like, and are starting to create pieces that function on the same range at which cats communicate with each other.

Cat senses

Cats have incredibly finely tuned senses; they are far more sensitive to sound and smell than we are as humans. A big part of the question as to whether cats like music relates to how they experience the world.

Human music caters to our senses, and music for cats should do the same.

Cats’ whiskers are sensitive to even the slightest of vibrations in the air. They also have a very well developed sense of hearing. Both of these factors could mean that your cat finds the music that you enjoy too loud or feels like it has too much bass.

Researchers have found that catering to cats’ senses, as well as they way in which they communicate, entirely changes their experience of music! Whereas your cat may react with complete indifference to your favourite song, when they are played music that has feline appropriate tone, pitch, and tempo, cats display demonstrable enjoyment—they have even been known to rub up against speakers and purr!

All the evidence points to the fact that cats do like music. If research continues into this species specific field, we could find a whole new range of cat music to play to our beloved pets—enriching their experience of the world, providing mental stimulation, and something to simply enjoy! Although do bear in mind that since your cat doesn’t necessarily like your taste in music, it’s possible that you won’t enjoy theirs…