It is undeniable that listening to music generates an effect on us, though people might differ whether the effect is beneficial or not. Now, what about animals? A team of scientists have set out to determine the effect of music on cats. The paper was published in the journal Applied Animal Behavioural Science.
Do cats respond positively to music?
Scientists from two universities of the US have composed ‘cat-centric music’ by manipulating the frequency of the sounds.
The lead author, Charles Snowdon, explained their methodology as follows:
“We looked at the natural vocalisations of cats and matched our music to the same frequency range, which is about an octave or more higher than human voices”.
As drum beats are often in synchrony with our own heartbeats, the cat music was made to have a similar link with the felines. The researchers made two types of cat music: one resembling a purring tempo and another featuring a suckling tempo.
“And since cats use lots of sliding frequencies in their calls, the cat music had many more sliding notes than the human music,” Snowdon said in a statement.
47 domestic cats were made to hear the cat songs while the scientists observed their reactions. The cats were also exposed to two classical human songs: Johann Sebastian Bach’s Air on a G String and Gabriel Fauré’s Elegie.
The team found that the cats were not responsive to the human music at all.
However, when they heard the cat songs, they got all excited and even came closer to the speakers. They were seen rubbing their scent glands on them – something cats do to ‘claim the object’.
Why taking the pain of composing cat music?
The scientists justified their research by putting forward that cats could thus be made to relax.
“The results suggest novel and more appropriate ways for using music as auditory enrichment for nonhuman animals,” wrote the authors in their paper.
Apart from showing that this might have therapeutic effects on cats, the study also highlighted how different species might respond differently to melodies.