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Cats Prefer Species-Appropriate Music

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Abstract

Many studies have attempted to use music to influence the behavior of nonhuman animals; however, these studies have often led to conflicting outcomes. We have developed a theoretical framework that hypothesizes that in order for music to be effective with other species, it must be in the frequency range and with similar tempos to those used in natural communication by each species. We have used this framework to compose music that is species-appropriate for a few animal species. In this paper we created species-appropriate music for domestic cats and tested this music in comparison with music with similar affective content composed for humans. We presented two examples of cat music in counter-balanced order with two examples of human music and evaluated the behavior and response latencies of cats to each piece. Cats showed a significant preference for and interest in species-appropriate music compared with human music (Median (IQR) 1.5 (0.5-2.0) acts for cat music, 0.25 (0.0-0.5) acts for human music, P <0.002) and responded with significantly shorter latencies (Median (IQR) 110.0 (54-138.75) s for cat music, 171.75 (151-180) s for human music (P< 0.001). Younger and older cats were more responsive to cat music than middle-aged acts (cubic trend, r2 = 0.477, P < 0.001). The results suggest novel and more appropriate ways for using music as auditory enrichment for nonhuman animals.
... 9 Snowdon et al suggested that music would be more effective if it were appropriate for the sensory and communication systems of the species under study. 25 Based on this, the authors composed songs for cats and reported that cats showed greater interest in this music, compared with human classical music. These songs contain frequencies similar to cat vocal ranges and are composed to create an affiliative effect on cats using pulses related to purring (1380 bpm) and suckling (250 bpm). ...
... These songs contain frequencies similar to cat vocal ranges and are composed to create an affiliative effect on cats using pulses related to purring (1380 bpm) and suckling (250 bpm). 25 Recently, another study demonstrated the advantage of cat-specific music over classical music or silence in a veterinary consultation. 26 A study in dogs compared classical music to music composed for dogs, and found that classical music was more effective in mitigating stress. ...
... For classical music, we selected a playlist generated on Spotify, with pieces of music from previous studies. 25,29,30 The classical music included only instrumental pieces, and were based on the piano. For cat-specific music, we selected the playlist performed and produced by David Teie, available on Spotify. ...
Article
Objectives This study aimed to evaluate the use of two different types of music – cat-specific music and classical music – compared with no music, to reduce stress in cats during hospitalization. Methods Thirty-five hospitalized cats were randomly divided into three groups and each group received a different stimulus – cat-specific music, classical music or no music (control) – throughout their hospitalization. Respiratory rate, salivary cortisol and social interaction were documented. A blinded researcher performed the Cat Stress Score (CSS) during the video analysis of recordings at five specific times over 31 h of hospitalization. Results There was no difference in the mean CSS between cats listening to cat-specific music, classical music and control throughout the five evaluations. Cat-specific music had a higher percentage of positive social interactions than the other groups on the first evaluation (P <0.05). The average respiratory rate was significantly lower in the classical music group vs control on the fourth evaluation (P <0.05). Although statistically insignificant, the average respiratory rate decreased only in the classical music group during the five evaluations. Cortisol quantification did not seem to follow the CSS results. However, owing to the low and unrepresentative number of samples, it was not possible to perform statistical analysis on these results or a group sample comparison. Conclusions and relevance Both cat-specific music and classical music seem to have some benefit to hospitalized cats. The salivary cortisol analysis was not adequate nor useful to measure stress in hospitalized cats in our study.
... In general, individuals prefer sounds of ecological relevance (i.e., they prefer natural sounds over artificial and prefer sounds that are species specific and familiar; Heffner & Heffner, 1998;Snowdon, Teie, & Savage, 2015; for a review, see McDermott, 2012). In humans, McDermott (2012) postulated that natural sounds, such as ocean waves or rainfall, are rated as pleasant; it is thought that this is due to their low-frequency components and slow temporal modulations (McDermott 2012). ...
... They can match the voice of a human to age categories (Ratcliffe, 2015), but whether dogs prefer familiar over novel sounds, or harmonic sounds over dissonances, has not been investigated. It has been postulated that the same features of music (i.e., low-frequency components and slow temporal modulations) may have similar physiological effects, albeit with species-specific adaptations regarding frequency ranges (calculated on basis of species-typical fundamental frequency during communication) or tempo (calculated on basis of species-typical heart rate; Snowdon et al., 2015), that is, species-specific music. There is some research on the perception of music and species-specific music in dogs (Leeds & Wagner, 2008), where it was found that soft rock, reggae, and classical music may have positive effects, whereas heavy metal had negative effects on dogs. ...
... There is some research on the perception of music and species-specific music in dogs (Leeds & Wagner, 2008), where it was found that soft rock, reggae, and classical music may have positive effects, whereas heavy metal had negative effects on dogs. Surprisingly, species-specific music appears to have no effect on dog behavior (Bowman, Dowell, & Evans, 2017;Bowman, Scottish, Dowell, & Evans, 2015;Kogan, Schoenfeld-Tacher, & Simon, 2012;Wells, Graham, & Hepper, 2002), unlike the preference shown by cats and monkeys (Snowdon & Teie, 2010;Snowdon et al., 2015). In contrast, it has been claimed that the calming effect of audiobooks exceeds that of music for dogs (Brayley & Montrose, 2016), although Wells et al. (2002) previously argued that classical music may outcompete speech. ...
... 9 Snowdon et al suggested that music would be more effective if it were appropriate for the sensory and communication systems of the species under study. 25 Based on this, the authors composed songs for cats and reported that cats showed greater interest in this music, compared with human classical music. These songs contain frequencies similar to cat vocal ranges and are composed to create an affiliative effect on cats using pulses related to purring (1380 bpm) and suckling (250 bpm). ...
... These songs contain frequencies similar to cat vocal ranges and are composed to create an affiliative effect on cats using pulses related to purring (1380 bpm) and suckling (250 bpm). 25 Recently, another study demonstrated the advantage of cat-specific music over classical music or silence in a veterinary consultation. 26 A study in dogs compared classical music to music composed for dogs, and found that classical music was more effective in mitigating stress. ...
... For classical music, we selected a playlist generated on Spotify, with pieces of music from previous studies. 25,29,30 The classical music included only instrumental pieces, and were based on the piano. For cat-specific music, we selected the playlist performed and produced by David Teie, available on Spotify. ...
Article
Objectives This study aimed to evaluate the use of two different types of music – cat-specific music and classical music – compared with no music, to reduce stress in cats during hospitalization. Methods Thirty-five hospitalized cats were randomly divided into three groups and each group received a different stimulus – cat-specific music, classical music or no music (control) – throughout their hospitalization. Respiratory rate, salivary cortisol and social interaction were documented. A blinded researcher performed the Cat Stress Score (CSS) during the video analysis of recordings at five specific times over 31 h of hospitalization. Results There was no difference in the mean CSS between cats listening to cat-specific music, classical music and control throughout the five evaluations. Cat-specific music had a higher percentage of positive social interactions than the other groups on the first evaluation ( P <0.05). The average respiratory rate was significantly lower in the classical music group vs control on the fourth evaluation ( P <0.05). Although statistically insignificant, the average respiratory rate decreased only in the classical music group during the five evaluations. Cortisol quantification did not seem to follow the CSS results. However, owing to the low and unrepresentative number of samples, it was not possible to perform statistical analysis on these results or a group sample comparison. Conclusions and relevance Both cat-specific music and classical music seem to have some benefit to hospitalized cats. The salivary cortisol analysis was not adequate nor useful to measure stress in hospitalized cats in our study.
... While this does suggest that the sparrows have musical preference, the authors' conclusion that the birds prefer "classical music" is unfounded. Some musicians have attempted to compose species-specific music, notably for racehorses (75) and cats (76), claiming that it has a positive, calming effect. Truax and Vonk (77) emphasize the importance of assessing auditory preferences before introducing acoustic stimulation, which acknowledges the pervasive quality of sound as well as the potential for individuality. ...
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This paper seeks to expand traditional aesthetic dimensions of design beyond the limits of human capability in order to encompass other species’ sensory modalities. To accomplish this, the idea of inclusivity is extended beyond human cultural and personal identities and needs, to embrace multi-species experiences of places, events and interactions in the world. This involves drawing together academic perspectives from ecology, neuroscience, anthropology, philosophy and interaction design, as well as exploring artistic perspectives and demonstrating how these different frames of reference can inspire and complement each other. This begins with a rationale for the existence of non-human aesthetics, followed by an overview of existing research into non-human aesthetic dimensions. Novel aesthetic categories are proposed and the challenge of how to include non-human aesthetic sensibility in design is discussed.
... The idea that music with features emulating emotions in vocalisations can alter arousal in animals has some support. Music composed to match the frequency range, pitch, and tempo of positive and negative vocalisations in cats and cotton-top tamarins were approached more often (Snowdon et al., 2015) or induced more anxious or calm behaviours than unmodified human music (Snowdon and Teie, 2010;Hampton et al., 2020). When hearing music with a lowered pitch, dogs increased vigilance behaviour, potentially because they perceived low pitch music as hostile (Amaya et al., 2021). ...
Article
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Music can have powerful effects on human health and wellbeing. These findings have inspired an emerging field of research that focuses on the potential of music for animal welfare, with most studies investigating whether music can enhance overall wellbeing. However, this sole focus on discovering what effects music have on animals is insufficient for advancing scientific and practical understanding of how music can be used as an enrichment tool and can also lead to problems in experimental design and interpretation. This paper argues for a different approach to the study of music for welfare, where music is used to address specific welfare goals, taking account what animals hear in music and selecting or creating ‘musical’ compositions that test current hypotheses about how music is able to influence animal behaviour and physiology. Within this conceptual framework, we outline the process through which perceptual abilities influence welfare outcomes and suggest reframing music for welfare research as Auditory Enrichment Research which adopts a targeted approach that does not purpose music as an all-round welfare enhancer but rather investigates whether auditory enrichment can ameliorate specific welfare problems based on species-specific perceptual abilities, needs, and welfare goals. Ultimately, we hope that these discussions will help to bring greater unification, vision, and directionality in the field.
... It may not necessarily be the classification of music that is important, but the structure of the piece of music related to its notes, tone, rhythm, and tempo [34], along with the individual dog's previous associations with the music. A study which examined the effect certain music types had on felines showed that cats prefer species-specific music, so sounds that were at a higher pitch and tempo [35]. When tested in a clinical setting, cats were scored as being significantly less stressed and easier to handle compared to when they were exposed to classical music or no music [36]. ...
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Veterinary visits can be stressful for dogs, but how their wellbeing changes during a visit is not well understood. Music therapy has been successfully used in clinical practice to alleviate stress and anxiety in people. The present study aimed to understand how canine stress changes during a veterinary visit, establish the effect of music, and highlight measures which may be of practical use. In a randomized crossover design, dogs were exposed to no music and a bespoke piece of classical music at a tempo designed to match their resting heart rate during a mock veterinary visit. Dogs were scored as more “afraid” during the physical examination compared to when they were in the hospital kennel (p < 0.001). Salivary cortisol, IgA, and infrared temperature all increased significantly (p < 0.05) from baseline to post-kennel and post-examination, with no effect of music treatment. Core body temperature (p = 0.010) and the odds of ‘relaxed’ lips (p = 0.020) were lower when dogs were exposed to music compared to control visits. Overall, dogs experienced changes in physiology and behavior, indicative of increased stress, over the course of the visit. Additional research is required to further understand the effect that bespoke music may have in alleviating canine stress during veterinary visits.
Chapter
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