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Ever wondered why your cats don’t share your appreciation of Johann Sebastian Bach or aren’t as enthusiastic to rock out to an old Led Zeppelin record? Turns out, it’s not their style.
Cats, in fact, do enjoy music, but they don’t enjoy human music — at least according to new research. A study recently published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science believes that in order for our feline friends to enjoy music, it has to be species-specific music.
The trick for getting pets to listen is composing music that fits into how the animal communicates, writes University of Wisconsin psychologists and study authors Megan Savage and Charles Snowdon. “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.”
To test their hypothesis, the researchers turned to musician David Teie to compose songs that would fit into those parameters, which resulted in the tracks, “Cozmo’s Air,” “Spook’s Ditty,” and “Rusty’s Ballad.” Testing 47 different domestic cats, the researchers played the cat-targeted songs and compared the felines’ reactions to two human songs: Bach’s “Air on a G String” and Gabriel Fauré’s “Elegie.”
A sample from “Cozmo’s Air.” SoundCloud file via i09
After their tests, the researchers found that the cats showed a “significant preference for and interest in” the cat-appropriate music compared to the two human songs, to which they didn’t respond at all. The study also found that the cat music also evoked better reactions from younger and older cats than middle-aged felines.
The research team wrote that these results “suggest novel and more appropriate ways for using music as auditory enrichment for nonhuman animals.”
Justin Scuiletti is the digital video producer at PBS NewsHour.
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