Are there sounds that make cats happy, calm and soothe them? It’s hard to say because we don’t yet speak cat and can’t ask them about it. We can only judge their behavior. We need to ask first: what sounds do cats like? Yes, there are scientists studying this type of thing. Their findings can help us calm, soothe and entertain our cats. My cat, Laila, and I also conducted our own non-scientific research at home. A good way to spend an hour or two on a Saturday, right?
The Official Research
What are the sounds that make cats happy? Obviously, they will hear any music but we want them to listen to the cat music and hopefully respond. The research I found was a study done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and appears in the Applied Animal Behavior Science Journal.
Here’s the verdict: Cats like music in higher octaves that mimics the tempo of soothing things like purring and sucking/nursing. Cats like music but not necessarily our music. They prefer their own cat-specific music. Figures, doesn’t it? Cats respond to music positively by purring, walking towards the sound and rubbing against the speaker/source of the cat music.
The research done by the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that when they played regular classical music, the average response time was 171 seconds and the response (if any) was minimal. When they played the cat music for them, the cats exhibited all the positive behavior of purring, getting closer and rubbing – all in an average of 110 seconds.
So, it seems as though cats like cat music. Now, let’s test it for ourselves…
This is not scientific. The sample size is 1. But, hey, we’re having fun. To conduct some research of our own, we went to YouTube. Well, I did and Laila watched. Turns out there are quite a few options for cat music on YouTube. When I searched “cat music” on YouTube, I got more than 96M results. Most were just classical music or regular music labelled as cat music. I settled on 2 different videos of cat music on YouTube.
Test 1: Relax My Cat on YouTube
This did nothing. I found the music relaxing but there was no change in Laila’s behavior in the 10 minutes we listened. It was as though she didn’t hear it.
RESULT: Nice for humans but had no response from the cat.
This yielded the best results for us. Laila definitely heard the music and seemed intrigued. After having it on for 10 minutes, she fell asleep on my husband’s hand. She could have just been sleepy, but we’ll call it a win.
RESULT: Good music for cats due to the higher pitched tones and purring.
I could only get a 1-minute clip of this music so I played it 10 times. Again, Laila was intrigued and was alert when it started each time. While it was playing she circled the computer a few times.
RESULT: Good music for cats. Need a longer and more varied clip to comment further.
Make Your Own Cat Music
Using sounds cats like, you can effectively make your own cat music. Like a mix tape for your feline bestie. I would tend more towards actual sounds cats like such as bird, other cats purring and higher pitched music based on our, albeit limited, research. Classical music would be good filler to separate the enjoyable cat sounds.
Bird sounds should keep your cat alert and are a good substitute for the real thing. Play bird sounds and watch your cat look for the source. The purring will be a more soothing music for cats.
Another option would be louder, more annoying sounds like dogs barking, cars revving their engines and pots banging. This should help to desensitize your cat to these noises, making them less nervous when they happen in real time.
After all this “research” I am going to play the relaxation music + cat purring the next time we leave the house. It might soothe her and lessen her abandonment issues. Have you tried out any cat music with your cat? What sounds or music does your cat like? I think it’s clear I’m willing to try anything to keep my cat happy.