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Surprising Science

Music Made for Cats Appeals to Special Feline Frequencies

Two psychologists and a composer have created music specially configured to arouse interest in cats. You can listen to the experiments, called Cat Ballads and Kitty Ditties.

If your cat doesn’t jive to Taylor Swift, a pair of psychologists at the University of Wisconsin wants to offer an alternative. As reported by Mental Floss‘ Erin McCarthy, psychologists Charles T. Snowdon and Megan Savage recently teamed up with composer David Teie of the University of Maryland to create music specially designed to arouse interest in cats. By constructing songs out of pitches, beats, and tempos known to appeal to feline sensibilities, the psychologists were able to test cats’ reaction to the kitty-configured music versus boring ol’ human tunes.

McCarthy explains that Snowdon, Savage, and Teie aren’t just aiming for Cat Grammys:

“The music is part of a larger project to create tunes for many members of the animal kingdom; the team has also created music for tamarin monkeys, which had a soothing effect on the creatures. The researchers hope that this species-specific music will enrich the lives of animals in captivity.”

In testing their music hypotheses, the team had 47 cats listen first to music written for and by humans, and then to Teie’s songs. Unsurprisingly, the cats displayed signs of intrigue for the latter and blasé indifference toward the former. McCarthy decided to test the tunes on her own cats and found she got similar results. It goes to show that cats, like angsty teenagers, dig music that speaks their language.

You can listen to samples of the songs here.

Read the study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

Photo credit: Ewa Studio / Shutterstock


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