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LISTEN: Scientists develop high-pitched music cats will love

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S., have discovered classical composers like Mozart are not so reputable among cats. So, they created a special "cat music", which is set an octave higher to attract felines' sensitive hearing. The tunes sound like a combination of purring and scraping a violin string. "After hearing this music, cats are more likely to start interacting with their new owners," psychology professor Charles Snowdon, who led the study, told Metro.

What inspired you to create this cat sound?

We had done work with small monkeys (tamarins, to create music on the basis of the auditory range and tempo of monkeys rather than on humans. We then learned that many people keep the radio on all day for their pets and we were concerned that this might not be good for the animals or at best might be of no value, so we started to work with pet cats.

What did you want to achieve with your study?


We wanted to evaluate whether music composed in the frequency range of cat communication, and with tempos that were appropriate for felines, would be more interesting to cats than human music and also to see if there were any negative effects of either type of music.

Why don’t pets like human music?

Their hearing range and the range of frequencies and tempos that they use for communicating are different from humans. We like music that matches the frequency range and tempos of our speech so we suspect that animals may be more responsive to pitches that are species-appropriate.

Can this cat music have positive effects on humans too?

We deliberately composed the music to appeal to cats as well as their owners. We have lots of high-pitched notes that appeal to cats and have avoided the pitches where cats communicate aggression. We then added lower-pitched notes that appeal to humans. The people who have listened to the music generally like it. If humans are going to play music that cats can appreciate it must also appeal to humans.

What effect does it have on cats?

Cats were more likely to orientate themselves toward the audio speaker playing this music, approach the unit and often rub against it, whereas they didn’t do this when the human music was playing. They also responded to the cat music an average of one minute sooner than they did to human music.

How can these feline sounds help pet owners?

Some owners have written to us that they have adopted animals from shelters and their cats are fearful of humans, but after hearing to this music the pets are more likely to start interacting with their new owners. Others have told us their cats become more alert when listening to this music. This indicates that playing classical music for cats does no harm but also has no benefit.

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