There’s a genre of music to suit everyone, but there’s also music made especially for cats and it’s a serious thing.
Cat music is a musical style informed by scientific theory. Just as music pleasing to the human ear has a beat similar to the resting pulse rate of 66 beats per minute, cat music uses purrs and suckling sounds and uses frequencies that match cat vocal ranges which are two octaves higher than those of humans.
The benefits of music for humans are well documented. It has been shown to reduce anxiety and fear associated with diagnostic procedures, examinations, cancer treatments and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as improving motor and cognitive function in stroke patients, but a recent study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, which is produced by the International Society of Feline Medicine, the veterinary branch of International Cat Care, and the American Association of Feline Practitioners, has shown that cat music has proven benefits for cats as well. The original article is currently free to access here.
Twenty cats took part in the study conducted by Louisiana State University that measured the response of each cat to silence, classical music and cat music by a physical examination, observation of stress related behaviours and a blood count conducted over three sessions which were combined to give a cat stress score. The cat music chosen was ‘Scooter Bere’s Aria’ composed, performed and produced by America’s National Symphony Orchestra cellist David Teie, and the classical piece was ‘Élégie’ written by Gabriel Fauré.
The results were striking and left little doubt that cat music is genuinely useful in reducing stress related behaviours in cats. Cat stress scores were significantly lower in cats listening to cat music compared with classical music and silence. There were no significant differences when comparing the sex, age or breed of the cats, whether they were neutered or not and whether they were outdoor or indoor cats, all responded positively to the music.
The reduction in stress when listening to the cat music allowed vets to conduct better physical examinations and take more accurate vitals. This has led to recommendations to play this music in the waiting rooms of veterinary clinics to ease the anxiety of waiting cats and allow a more thorough examination to take place which would have huge benefits for their wellbeing.
But, just as human tastes in music vary from person to person, the same might well be the case for cats. A stray cat in Istanbul seems to disagree with the finding of the study that cats have no preference for classical music, as it snuck into a performance by an orchestra performing in the city. Clearly a connoisseur, the cat performs a brief tour of the stage before leaping up onto the podium with the conductor and watching the rest of the concert from the best seat in the house, right in front of the performers. You can watch the antics of this cultured cat in the video below.