Can our pets listen to music?

Music can be a soothing, relaxation technique after a stressful day at the office. Music can be an outlet for our emotions when speaking just simply won’t do. Music can also be a way of self-expression and motivation to get up and get moving. This is what music does for us, but what does it do for our furry friends? Do they even listen to music? Do other types of animals react to music?

What does music do to animals?

Scientists have become very interested in this very topic. They have decided to research and study the way that individual animals and pets react to human-made music. They then document the results for further discovery.

One study was conducted on kennel dogs in 2012. The scientists played music, varying n genre, to 117 kennel dogs. They chose to play heavy metal, classical, and altered classical music. During the experiment, the scientists recorded the dog’s behavior during each type of music. The results found that the dogs were more calm and even slept while the classical music was played. When the heavy metal music was played, the dogs demonstrated anxiety, shaking, and nervousness. The scientist’s findings are very similar to that of human reactions to heavy metal music and classical music.

Cats were used in a separate study. They were played various genres of human-made music, but they seemed indifferent to it. It was then believed that they might respond to music that is specially composed for felines. A psychologist, Charles Snowden and a composer, David Teie worked together to create music that would be better suited for cats to listen to. They designed the music to replicate frequencies and tempos that a cat would use or hear when communicating with another cat.
cat on a speaker
The study was then conducted on 47 different households that owned cats. Two classical songs were played, and two feline songs were played. The cats showed little response to the classical music. However, they would run against the speaker when the feline music was played. The study also points out that young kittens and cats, as well as older cats, were more receptive to the music compared to the middle-aged cats that were more indifferent.

Based on these two scientific studies, it would seem that certain kinds of music may have an effect on our pets and certain types may not. It would also appear that it depends on the type of pet you have at home. If you have a nervous Chihuahua dog at home, then you may want to try playing some classical music for him. It may help to calm his nerves. On the other hand, if you have a cat at home, then you can likely play any genre of music that you prefer because they are more likely to be indifferent to it anyways.

Do our pets hear music as we do?

Generally, that depends on the animal in question. Dogs and monkeys are thought to be able to distinguish tones and moods in songs similarly to the way we do.
headphones monkey
Therefore, it is thought that if they can notice aspects of music like we do, then they may listen to it. On the other hand, dogs and bats are able to hear sounds of a higher frequency that we humans just cannot hear. Therefore, they may be frequencies in our music that are too high and displeasing to our furry friends that we simply are not aware of. If this is the case, then it is thought that animals may not listen to human-made music. It is also important to mention that humans, cats, and dogs have been involved in each other’s lives for thousands of years. Humans have co-evolved with cats and dogs which are thought to mean that our expressions and emotions have “rubbed off” on our companions. Cats and dogs may then be able to interpret empathy, fear, sadness, happiness, and various other types of moods as well as be able to demonstrate them to us. If you look at the relationship between humans and lizards, for example, you would not see these shared emotions. Lizards have not co-evolved alongside humans for thousands of years and therefore they still hold their own set of expressions and emotions that we may not be capable of interpreting or vice versa.

Overall, it seems to depend on whether the animal’s auditory range is similar to a human’s as well as if the animal is capable of reading human emotions and moods.

What about other types of animals?

Scientists have also tested human-made music on various other types of animals as well. They found that dairy cows seemed to produce more milk if spa-like music was being played.
cows listen music
Scientists then played human music to monkeys and found that their behaviors did not change except the song “Of Wolf and Man” by the heavy metal band, Metallica. The monkeys seemed fond of this song and were even calmed by it. The scientists produced music specifically for the monkeys to see if they would have a similar result as they did for the cats and feline music. Their findings were very similar. Birds were also tested. The study was conducted on white-tailed sparrows. The scientists learned from this experiment that their brains reacted to the music being played in a similar fashion to the way our brains respond when music is being played.