check out these new tunes made especially for your cat
In addition to being a veterinarian, I’m probably best known as a musician, well, bassist to be exact. I was in a moderately successful band throughout college and veterinary school, “The Violets,” and we were lucky enough to score a College Music Journal Top 20 hit, “I Hate the Grateful Dead.”
Now before you ask, no, I’m not a fan of the Grateful Dead and, yes, I still play and compose. Which leads me to the next question I’ve been asked, “Have you ever written music for your pets?” Not yet, but some very interesting people did and published a study about it in the journal Applied Animal Behavior and Science. If they’re right, it seems felines are fond of some weird tunes and we should care.
Canines and classical music
Before we examine what turns cats on musically and giggle, you have to understand this is actually quite important. For over 20 years I’ve advised my clients to play soft classical music for pets left alone. Music is an instant environmental enrichment we believe can help calm and soothe a potentially anxious or lonely dog or cat.
I often recommend classical music because of the “Mozart effect” described in humans and dogs. Listening to certain music may help improve mental focus, reduce stress and, at least temporarily, increase results on intelligence tests. In dogs, playing soothing music appears to help them relax in stressful situations such as when kenneled. I believe it; I always played soothing music in my dog boarding facilities and doggie daycare “nap area.”
What beats are best for your cat?
Because most cats live their lives confined indoors, it’s important to make their environment as low-stress, pleasant and interesting as possible. Music and sound management is essential to that effort. Until now, no one had bothered to ask cats what type of music they preferred.
The researchers had an interesting hypothesis: Music should consist of the frequencies and tempos the animal uses in the natural world. In other words, in what frequencies did cats communicate? What sounds were most attractive? Did they prefer rapid bursts of sound or slower, less rushed noise?
The scientists and composers took the data we know about cat communication and hearing, which isn’t a lot, and sat down at a synthesizer (or maybe an iPad - I don’t know how people compose songs these days). The results of this small study were intriguing.
The cats seemed to favor feline tracks over human hits. Younger and older cats really dug the cat chords while middle-aged cats clung to human harmonies. If you’re interested in spinning a few tunes for your cat, visit MusicForCats.com for samples. I’d love to know what your feline favors.
What I appreciate about these types of studies is that people are striving to find out how we can make our pets more comfortable and happier. As an animal doctor, most of my career is spent exploring the latest diagnostic tests and disease treatments. It’s refreshing to examine simple ways any pet owner can enrich their dog or cat’s daily wellbeing. Even though I can’t relate to this new musical genre, I blame it on my species. Now excuse me as I set out to write the next great chart-topping kitty hit.