Academic journal article Science and Children

Study Shows Cats Prefer Their Own Beat

Academic journal article Science and Children

Study Shows Cats Prefer Their Own Beat

Article excerpt

As more animal shelters, primate centers, and zoos start to play music for their charges, it's still not clear whether and how human music affects animals.

Now, a recent study shows that while cats ignore our music, they are highly responsive to "music" written especially for them.

"We are not actually replicating cat sounds," says lead author Charles Snowdon. "We are trying to create music with a pitch and tempo that appeals to cats."

The first step in making cat music is "to evaluate music in the context of the animal's sensory system," he says. Cats, for example, vocalize one octave higher than people, "So it's vital to get the pitch right. Then we tried to create music that would have a tempo that was appealing to cats." One sample was based on the tempo of purring, the other on the sucking sound made during nursing.

In the tests, Snowdon and coauthor Megan Savage brought a laptop and two speakers to the homes of 47 cats and played four sound samples: two from classical music and two "cat songs" created by composer David Teie.

The music began after a period of silence, and the cat's behavior was noted. Purring, walking toward the speaker, and rubbing against it were adjudged positive response, while hissing, arching the back, and raising the fur were negative. …

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