Thursday, 30 April 2015

cats prefer cat music

Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 166, May 2015, Pages 106–111


Music is often used for enrichment of animals, but results are conflicting.
We present a theory of species-appropriate music and test this with domestic cats.
Cats responded more to species-appropriate music than to human music.
Species-appropriate music is more likely to benefit animals than human music.


Many studies have attempted to use music to influence the behavior of nonhuman animals; however, these studies have often led to conflicting outcomes. We have developed a theoretical framework that hypothesizes that in order for music to be effective with other species, it must be in the frequency range and with similar tempos to those used in natural communication by each species. We have used this framework to compose music that is species-appropriate for a few animal species. In this paper, we created species-appropriate music for domestic cats and tested this music in comparison with music with similar affective content composed for humans. We presented two examples of cat music in counterbalanced order with two examples of human music, and we evaluated the behavior and response latencies of cats to each piece. Cats showed a significant preference for and interest in species-appropriate music compared with human music (median (interquartile range (IQR)) 1.5 (0.5–2.0) acts for cat music, 0.25 (0.0–0.5) acts for human music, P < 0.002) and responded with significantly shorter latencies (median (IQR) 110.0 (54–138.75) s for cat music, 171.75 (151–180) s for human music (P < 0.001). Younger and older cats were more responsive to cat music than middle-aged acts (cubic trend, r2 = 0.477, P < 0.001). The results suggest novel and more appropriate ways for using music as auditory enrichment for nonhuman animals.


  • Cats;
  • Auditory enrichment;
  • Emotions;
  • Music;
  • Species-appropriate

Corresponding author at: Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, 1202 West Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53706, USA. Tel.: +1 6082623974.