Why do cats and dogs enjoy music?

Why do cats and dogs enjoy music?

Why do cats and dogs enjoy music?

Many pet owners know that leaving some music on at home can be relaxing for pets, particularly when the pet parents have to leave the house. Historically, however, pets will not have had much choice in the type of music they would get to enjoy. 

But cats’ and dogs' hearing develops differently, and so music specifically composed for cats and dogs has become more and more popular over the last few years. It is generally designed to relax pets, often when they are left alone at home. Music can be particularly beneficial for pets suffering from separation anxiety. 

But how does music actually help our pets to relax? 

To put it simply, composers of cat/dog music, let's call it pet music, use frequencies that cats or dogs can hear, and which (usually) sound relaxing for humans too. That's because relaxed humans will project that positive energy onto their pets too, thereby relaxing the pet even more.

To gather some scientific data on the effect of music on pets, a study was carried out by the Scottish SPCA and the University of Glasgow. The researchers found that during the study, dogs' stress levels decreased significantly after the music was played into their kennels. The researchers played classical music to start with. 

However, it was found that the relaxing effect of the music didn't last very long. It turns out that pets, in particular dogs, just like humans, enjoy listening to a variety of music too. The research found that while classical music had an initial calming effect on the dogs, they quickly became bored. Instead, further study confirmed that reggae and soft rock came out as the best genres for reducing stress, barking and heart rates.

According to this article from The Guardian, The SPCA’s head of research, Gilly Mendes Ferreira, speculates this is because “those genres have a rhythm that is similar to the dogs’ own heart rate. When a puppy is feeling stressed it will snuggle into its mother and use her heartbeat as relaxation, so this music mimics that.” 

Ok, so dogs enjoy Reggae. Which music do cats like?

One of the most famous names in the pet music scene is David Teie, a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra. He has teamed up with animal scientists to develop “Music for Cats,” a series of whirring, lilting and at times squeaky musical tracks designed for cats’ brains and ears. 

Mr Teie uses special instruments and tonal mixing to produce this music. Sounds similar to the chirps of birds are overlaid with hurried streams of staccato for an energizing effect; in others songs crescendos of purring and suckling sounds are designed to relax. To a human ear, the sounds are otherworldly and at times soporific.

But does it actually work? Eleanor Stanford, writing for the New York Times put it to the test, with her cat "Pocket" who was found wandering the streets of New York City. After her rescue, "Pocket" was found to be quite a nervous cat, running all over the place at times. 

Listening to the track “Cozmo’s Air,” built upon soothing vibrato sounds, she sat still. By the end of the four and a half minutes, she had curled herself around the speakers, purring.

Young rescue cats like Pocket are generally the most responsive to the music according to Mr. Snowdon, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who worked with Mr. Teie on the project. He further added that the more-calming tracks could be therapeutic for cats who have experienced neglect or abuse.

To get you started with pet music, we've created a Spotify playlist ready for your pets. This includes one for dogs, and one for cats, we've linked them below for your convenience. 

What's more, we want to hear from you! Well, your pet, really. Which songs were favourites? Any songs you'd like to add to the playlist? We've set the playlists up so you can add any songs your pet enjoys (strictly pet music though, even if you really liked that new Post Malone track).

 

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