If you’ve ever belted out a tune while cleaning or doing chores or just for the fun of it, what did your cat do? Did it ignore you? Did it run away? Did it come up to you and start purring? Maybe it ‘sang’ along too! (I had a cat that did that once in a while). What gives?
Why does a cat sometimes come to you when you’re singing, join in, or run for the hills?
Cats and Sound
Cats are, first and foremost, very sensitive to sound. Their ears allow them to pick up all sorts of tones and noises that we humans wouldn’t even register. On top of that, their whiskers will pick up even very subtle vibrations from sounds, so they really get to experience sound all over their heads. This makes them very sensitive to noises. For some cats, even the hum of electronics is too obnoxious for them.
Cats hear at a higher frequency than humans or dogs, able to hear up to 60 kilohertz (compared to 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz for humans and a hearing range of 40 kilohertz for dogs). That’s three times the sensitivity!
For this reason, cats really have a hard time with high-pitched, loud music because it hurts them. If you’re singing or listening to something in a higher pitch or that is faster, it’s far more likely that your cat will leave; lowering, more soothing tones will be more likely to make them stay put.
Cats Have Taste in Music Too!
You thought only humans had preferences? Cats certainly do too and it’s as individual as ours. For example, my old cat likes the YouTube videos that my son watches – something about the YouTube personalities and their voices, I think.
My young cat actually seems to just like the noise of tapping keys on a computer – we joke that she’s my ‘writer’ kitty since as soon as I’m working on anything, she’s hovering beside me. (She’s in the window beside me right now as I write). She also seems to like several tv shows, though she doesn’t seem to be a fan of monster movies (too many explosions probably).
Some cats really like some songs in certain pitches while other cats like other pitches. It’s very much a personality thing as well as a sensitivity thing. Both my cats enjoy watching video games, but they watch very different ones!
My old cat will sit on my husband’s lap while he’s playing dungeon crawling games while the young one seems to enjoy Monster Hunter.
One thing is certain, most cats probably don’t care too much about the music we listen to. After all, they don’t care about human words and lyrics – they care about cat lyrics! So, your cat will be more likely to enjoy music if it’s in the same frequency range and tempo that they use to communicate.
In fact, this was tested in a study where songs were calibrated for cats and then other songs were left for humans. Cats overwhelmingly preferred the ones calibrated for them.
So, cats enjoy music – when it’s their music! Or at least music that sounds like their music.
Cats seem to enjoy:
- Any other slow, low music
Singing songs like these for cats is more likely to make them purr, come to up you, or even meow to sing along with you! It can also allow cats to feel more relaxed, content, and more mentally stimulated, all of which are quite good for the health of your pet. You can even insert your cat’s name in the song and see if that gets your pet more involved!
Cats Become Overstimulated
When my youngest cat is overstimulated, she can go from purring and rolling happily to a biting, scratching whirlwind. (We are training her out of that because of the kids). Cats most often get overstimulated by being stroked too much, but they can also get overstimulated by noise, including music.
Too much noise makes a lot of cats cranky and overwhelmed, leading some of them to come over and bite or scratch you! When that happens, they might have just had enough of the stimulation and are asking for you to make it go away. They probably won’t bite you hard, but that nibble is sometimes a reminder that kitty needs some peace and quiet. Cats that don’t do that will likely just leave the area and go find a quiet corner to hide in for a while.
Some cats may also think that when you’re singing, you are calling them over to play! This is likely because you are hitting notes that cats would normally use to tell each other that it’s playtime, especially very young cats.
Either way, you may notice when you are singing that your cat bites you, though probably not very hard. This is likely because they are either overstimulated or because they think it’s playtime.
What if My Cat Hates My Singing?
No matter what you sing, some cats may just not be fans. That’s ok! Not all humans like singing and music either and cats have their own likes. If your cat doesn’t like your singing no matter what you do, then don’t worry about it.
There are plenty of other ways to enjoy time with your pet and your cat will probably just wander off when you start singing.
It’s important to remember that as aloof as cats tend to act, they are actually quite sensitive animals. A change in routine for example can throw them off for days! They are also sensitive to noise, getting vibrations in both their ears and their whiskers, and able to hear at a much higher pitch than humans.
If you want to make sounds comforting for your pet, it’s important to keep them low and slow so that it doesn’t overwhelm your pet. But it’s also important to remember that cats have their tastes in music too and some cats just hate all music, no matter what you do.
If your cat comes to you while you are singing, enjoy it! It’s a great way to bond with your pet. And if not, don’t worry about it as there are plenty of other things you can do.
Does your cat enjoy music and come to you when you sing?