Cats hear better than humans, but do they like our music?
There’s tons of info on the internet about cats, so when I went searching for credible information about whether or not felines really do like music, I was surprised, finding very few credible studies about the subject.
Articles do state research finds that cats do like calming music. As cat people we want our felines to share our interests. We fancy they like the same TV shows. We treat them with off-limits table food. And we put on our favorite tunes to soothe their anxieties and keep them entertained.
Paws for Reflection asks if this really effective? Many animal shelters use classical music to keep cats calm. A study by the Colorado State University was undertaken to determine if classical music soothed puddy cat and their cat person while waiting to see their veterinarian.
Cats are very astute, and they do pick up on their humans’ moods. That may cause them to tune into your favorite tunes.
Cats have incredibly astute hearing. They needed to be able to hunt in bright daylight or almost darkness. Their biological make-up not only allows them to hear much higher frequencies, they can amplify that sound by three to four times. They also have the ability to localize sounds, hearing and differentiating sounds three feet away whose sources are only three inches apart. They can recognize the sounds of your car coming into the driveway after a long day at work. They can hear you as you awaken in the morning. They definitely wait to hear the canned food open, and will come running when I shake the cat treats as bribery to not play ‘catch the cat who just ran out the door’ as I’m leaving for work.
Humans can hear frequencies from about 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz, dogs from about 20 hertz to 40 kilohertz, and cats from about 30 hertz to 60 kilohertz. “Cats are capable of hearing the very high pitch of high-frequency sounds – it would appear three times as high and ones that humans can’t detect.
What makes kitty’s hearing so good is their anatomy. Their outer ear, or all pinna is located on top of the cat’s head. The About 30 different muscles control that outer ear, enabling kitty to independently rotate each ear 180 degrees, and position one ear or both facing any sound the cat detects.
Several articles on the internet explain how the feline ear works. The ear’s shape is designed to funnel sound down to the middle ear, where the tympanic membrane and three small bones called auditory ossicles transmit vibrations into the inner ear. The middle ear also contains a canal called the eustachian tube that helps to equalize pressure in the ear. Within the inner ear is a curved bone, the cochlea, where the actual hearing mechanism is located — called the organ of Corti. It is here that small, sensitive hairs pick up sound vibrations and send them through the auditory nerve to the brain.
According to animal.discover.com, cats can detect the tiniest variances in sound, distinguishing differences of one-tenth of a tone, which helps them identify the type and size of the prey omitting the noise. This heightened sense of hearing is especially important in wildcats, which depend on hunting for survival. It also enables wild and domestic feline mothers to hear faint squeals of distress from their cubs or kittens when they stray too far away.
Animal.discover.com also states a feline up to 3 feet away from the origin of a sound can pinpoint its location to within a few inches in a mere six one-hundredths of a second. Cats also can hear sounds at great distances — four or five times farther away than humans.
The vestibular apparatus, housed deep in the cat’s inner ear, is responsible for the cat’s remarkable sense of balance. This sense organ’s tiny chambers and canals are lined with millions of sensitive hairs and filled with fluid and minute floating crystals.
When the cat moves suddenly, the delicate hairs detect the movement of the fluid and crystals and rapidly send messages to the brain, giving readings on the body’s position.
The article goes on to say that this helps kitty know which is up and which is down, and helps them be able to turn themselves around in mid-air, adjusting themselves so they land on all four feet.
Cats, like humans, can become hard of hearing with age. This can be caused by disease, infections, outer-ear trauma, inner-ear damage (from excessively loud noises) or simply old age. The cat’s ability to detect high frequencies particularly declines as the eardrum thickens with age.
So with kitty’s keen hearing, he probably does like certain music, but what is his favorite. If their ear amplifies music, one would think they don’t like particularly loud music. They also might well like music based on a higher pitch than we humans do. I for one do not claim to be a cat music expert. I hope to find more information on the subject.
There are places to buy music tailed particularly for felines. In our next blog post, Paws for Reflection will highlight the work of The Laurel Canyon Animal Company, based in Los Angeles, Calif. Skip Haynes says they are the only record label in the world that creates music about, for, and with animals.
Does your cat like music? If so what kind does kitty prefer? Do you leave the cd or mp3 player running so he can listen to music throughout the day? If you have experience with your kitty and music, please share.