The Benefits of Music for Cats

Like humans, cats do enjoy listening to music. But they prefer music that's chosen with them in mind, especially classical music. "I believe they respond well both to music for calming and enrichment," says Dr. Susan Wagner.
benefits of music for cats

Does your cat disapprove of your taste in music? There’s a reason for that! Research shows that cats are more likely to be interested in cat music than human music, says Charles T. Snowdon, a Hilldale Professor Emeritus in the department of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the lead author of the study,

“Cats Prefer Species-Appropriate Music.”

Didn’t think that music for cats existed? Think again! Cats, with their acute sense of hearing, instinctively prefer music that corresponds closely with the sounds they use to communicate with each other, such as purring and meowing. So there’s no need to take it personally if your cat snubs your favorite tune or leaves the room when you cue up your stereo! It’s not because of her discerning taste — she just may not be able to tolerate the tone and volume.

How Can You Use Music With Your Cats?

Like humans, cats do enjoy listening to music. But they prefer music that’s chosen with them in mind, especially classical music. “I believe they respond well both to music for calming and enrichment,” says Dr. Susan Wagner, an integrative medicine doctor at MedVet Columbus and an adjunct assistant professor at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Wagner, who specializes in music therapy for animals, recommends two types of music for cats: calming (to reduce stress) and enriching (to stimulate).

“Calming music has lower tones, slower tempos and minimal instrumentation, while enriching music is just the opposite,” she says. “For example, a soothing Chopin piano sonata calms your kitty down, while a lively Bach flute sonata encourages her to jump and play.”

Do you like to leave the radio on when you’re out of the house as a way to keep your cat company? If so, it’s important for you to choose the music that you play wisely, as it has the potential to do more harm than good. According to Snowdon, you must be sure to avoid any music that may induce negative emotions in your furry companion.

What Are the Benefits of Music for Cats?

There are many benefits of introducing your cat to the world of music. According to Dr. Wagner, you should play calming music for at least an hour a day if your pet tends to be anxious or scared, and “enriching music is especially wonderful for indoor cats,” she adds.

According to Dr. Wagner, music therapy can be used to help cats who are suffering from a variety of serious medical conditions. “I have recommended music for my feline patients who suffer from anxiety or disorders that are exacerbated by anxiety, such as Feline Interstitial Cystitis, Herpes or Inflammatory Bowel Disease,” she says. “I also have found it helpful in any chronic condition that creates stress, whether it is osteoarthritis, diabetes or cancer.”

According to Snowdon, music also does wonders for feral cats. “One of the main benefits of the cat music may be to help animals that have previously been abused or neglected to develop confidence in their new human companions,” he says. For instance, this music may urge an unresponsive stray cat to approach and interact with a new owner.

Ideally, you and your kitty can come to a mutual agreement on what type of music to play in your home. “There needs to be a balance between music for humans and for cats when both are together,” says Snowdon.

Christine O’Brien is a writer and the mother of a daughter and two Russian Blue cats, who don’t seem to appreciate her taste for new wave music.


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