Music. It can bring us joy, uplift our spirits and even help alleviate our anxieties. But do our pets feel the same way about our favorite tunes? Now that we're spending more time indoors with our furry friends, providing a relaxing and stress free environment is important for both humans and our furry friends, especially during these strange times.
Dogs and cats have very different hearing capabilities compared to humans. A cat's hearing is twice as sensitive as dogs, while dogs have hearing five times more sensitive than ours. Cats are great at filtering out what they don't want to hear (like our constant nagging) but have no problem hearing a treat bag opening from across the house. They are great hunters as well due to their incredible hearing abilities and can hear higher frequency noises that come from small mammals. Cats can hear a frequency range of 45-64 KHz while humans can only hear a frequency of 20-23 KHz.
Dogs also have amplified hearing and can hear 40-60 KHz. They have 18 muscles in their ears to help control and locate where the sound is coming from. When a dog knows when someone is at the door or is scared, they are hearing noises that the human ear cannot pick up. So loud noises, like fireworks, are terrifying for our pets with their sensitive hearing.
But what about music for pets? Some owners leave music playing when they are away from home to help their pets relax and provide some kind of comfort. But do we really know if it is helping?
For dogs, there have been two major research studies on music preferences. The first study included shelter dogs and reported that dogs barked less and spent more time relaxing with classical music compared to heavy rock, human conversation, pop music and the control group. The dogs showed a preference to a slower tempo and music that had less complexity. Harp music also showed evidence to decrease heart rate and respiration rate and promote better recoveries in dogs that were hospitalized.
But what about cats?
Not so much. Cats on the other hand appear to be quite fond of some noises, like their owner's voice, but act fearfully towards other sounds like a vacuum cleaner. But there have been several studies that have proven that cats do like feline-appropriate music to the point that they even rub against the speakers.
What is feline-appropriate music? It is music composed specifically for felines. The notes are similar in frequency to the notes of a feline purr, or the low-pitched and high-pitched sounds of meows. Here is an example:
So do our pets enjoy music? Yes! Just maybe a little different kind of tune.