Do Cats Dig the Tunes? How Felines Feel About Your Favorite Radio Jams

Do Cats Enjoy Listening to the Radio and Other Music?

Many pet owners wonder if leaving the radio or music playing will stimulate and enrich their cat when they are home alone. Cats have a reputation for being quite finicky, so it’s understandable that owners want to make sure any background noise they provide is actually enjoyable for kitty’s sensitive ears, rather than a nuisance.

The interest in music for cats stems from research showing they have a more complex inner life than once thought. We now know cats can experience joy, anxiety, jealousy and boredom. This means providing appropriate auditory stimulation may help cats stay happy and content when their human companions are away.

In this article, we’ll explore what science reveals about cats’ musical tastes and the effects different sounds have on our feline friends. We’ll also provide tips for creating a cat-friendly sound environment in your home.

Cats’ Hearing Abilities

Cats have an exceptionally broad hearing range compared to humans. According to studies, cats can hear frequencies up to 64kHz, while humans only hear up to 20kHz (Heffner, 1985). This means cats can detect higher pitched sounds that are inaudible to humans.

Not only can cats hear higher frequencies, but they can also detect much quieter sounds. Cats have been shown to detect sounds as quiet as -12dB SPL, whereas humans don’t hear sounds below 0dB SPL (Heffner, Heffner, 1985). This allows cats to pick up very subtle noises.

A cat’s sensitive hearing is enabled by their large movable ears that capture sounds. Cats can rotate their ears independently up to 180 degrees, allowing them to pinpoint the exact location of noises. Their large ear canal also amplifies incoming sounds.

Additionally, cats have an extensive hearing range across frequencies. Research shows domestic cats can perceive sounds spanning 10.5 octaves (Heffner, Heffner, 1985). For comparison, the human hearing range only spans 9.3 octaves. This wide frequency range allows cats to detect a broad array of sounds.

In summary, cats have superior hearing compared to humans in terms of higher frequency detection, sensitivity to quieter sounds, and broad frequency range. Their specialized ear structure and sensitivity contributes to their refined sense of hearing.

Cats’ Musical Preferences

Studies have found that cats seem to prefer certain types of music over others. According to research by applied animal behaviorist Charles Snowdon, cats responded more positively to species-specific music compared to human music. The species-specific music incorporated purrs, suckling sounds, and chirrups that cats would hear from their mothers and littermates. Cats showed more signs of relaxation and interest when the species-specific music was played, indicating they liked it better than general human music.

Another study by University of Wisconsin found that domestic cats were most relaxed when listening to classical music, especially string instruments like cello and violin. The cats in the study were more relaxed, slept more, and vocalized less when classical music was played compared to other genres like pop, heavy metal, country, and jazz. The researchers believe the repetitive melody and absence of dramatic fluctuations in tempo, tone, and volume in classical music provides a calming effect for cats.

Some evidence indicates that cats may also enjoy music designed specifically for their listening preferences, such as “Music for Cats” by David Teie. This music uses melodic ranges and tempos adapted for feline hearing and contains purring and suckling sounds cats find comforting. While more research is needed, current studies suggest cats prefer soothing classical music and music made just for them over other human genres.


Effects of Music on Cats

Research suggests that music can have notable effects on cats’ behavior and mood. According to a study by the University of Wisconsin, music written specifically for cats showed promising results in reducing stress and anxiety in shelter cats (source). The study found that when exposed to “cat music,” the cats were less vocal and slept more. Another study by researchers in the UK found that cats seemed to prefer and be calmed by species-appropriate music that incorporated purring, suckling, and birdsong sounds similar to what kittens would hear from their mother cat (source).

In contrast, rock music and other genres with loud, erratic sounds tend to produce signs of stress, fear, and anxious behavior in cats according to feline behaviorists. The consensus among experts is that cats prefer slower, simpler melodies and lean towards classical music when compared to pop. The tempo and sounds of classical music may be more pleasing and less overstimulating for cats’ sensitive hearing.

Overall, research indicates music impacts cats’ moods much like it does humans. The right sounds can have calming, soothing effects, while the wrong sounds may agitate and stress. When choosing music for your cat, experts recommend sticking to quieter genres with more predictable rhythms and sounds.

Leaving the Radio On

Some owners choose to leave the radio on for their cats when they are away from home. The intention is to provide sounds and stimulation for the cat so they do not feel lonely or anxious. However, there are both pros and cons to consider when leaving the radio on for cats.

On the pro side, the sound from the radio can provide an auditory enrichment that mimics human company and activity in the home. This can prevent the cat from feeling isolated and make them feel more secure ( The radio can also mask outdoor noises that might startle the cat.

However, there are some downsides. Not all cats appreciate human music, and the sounds may end up causing them stress rather than comfort ( Loud volumes could also negatively impact cats’ sensitive hearing. Leaving the radio on constantly may disrupt normal sleep-wake cycles. Additionally, it can lead to heightened energy use.

In determining whether to leave the radio on, owners should consider their individual cat’s personality and preferences. Monitoring the cat’s reaction and fine-tuning the type of programming, volume, and timespan can help strike the right balance. Providing the cat enrichment like toys may be an alternative or supplemental way to ease separation anxiety.

Types of Music and Radio

Cats tend to prefer calming, soothing music over high-energy or loud genres. Music that mimics cat purrs, nature sounds, or classical music can have a relaxing effect on cats. Some good radio station or playlist options include:

  • Whiskas Cat Calm Radio – a radio station created specifically for cats that features relaxing ambient music designed to reduce stress and anxiety in cats (
  • Spotify’s Music for Cats playlist – features calming piano, nature sounds, and light instrumentation (
  • Classical music stations – the soothing sounds of classical music can relax cats.
  • Ambient or new age music stations – features gentle, calming music.

Avoid loud, jarring music like rock, pop, or hip-hop, as this can stress or annoy cats. Stick to mellow, calm genres and sounds to create a soothing audio environment for your feline friend.

Other Auditory Enrichment

While the radio can provide some auditory stimulation for cats, there are other options that may be more enriching for felines. According to research from Lincoln Pet Culture, alternatives like audiobooks and cat-specific music can provide better auditory enrichment. Cats tend to prefer species-appropriate music over human music, as noted in a report from the NC3Rs.

Some options for auditory enrichment designed for cats include:

  • Music composed specifically for cats, like “Music for Cats” by David Teie
  • Nature sounds like bird songs, purring, or other ambient feline noises
  • Audiobooks read in soothing voices
  • Podcasts or radio shows specific for pets

Tailoring the sounds to a cat’s auditory preferences can create a more enriching sound environment than just leaving on a radio station meant for human listeners. Their hearing is very sensitive, so it’s important to monitor their reactions to assess if they are enjoying or disliking the sounds. Providing a variety of auditory stimulation can help keep cats engaged.

Creating a Cat-Friendly Sound Environment

When leaving a radio on for your cat, it’s important to create an auditory environment that is enriching but not overwhelming. Here are some tips for cat owners:

  • Observe your cat’s reactions to different music and radio stations. Look for signs of stress like ears back, hiding, or agitation. Avoid playlists that provoke these reactions.
  • Keep the volume low to moderate. Loud music can be frightening and hard on cats’ sensitive ears.
  • Pick calmer music and talk radio over loud rock, electronic, or adventure stories which may overstimulate cats.
  • Provide music in moderation. The radio doesn’t need to be on all day. Give your cat breaks of quiet time.
  • Set up the radio in a room your cat can leave if desired. Don’t trap them with unwanted noise.
  • Consider cat-specific music like ukulele music composed to appeal to feline ears.
  • Incorporate variety. Change radio stations periodically to prevent boredom.

Every cat is different, so pay attention to your pet’s unique preferences. With some trial and error, you can find radio sounds that provide enriching auditory stimulation for your feline friend.

Signs Your Cat Dislikes the Radio

Cats can be quite subtle in displaying discomfort or dislike for something. Here are some behaviors that may indicate your cat is bothered by sounds coming from the radio:

  • Flattened ears – Ears pressed back against the head often signifies an unhappy or upset cat.
  • Hiding – If your normally social kitty starts hiding more when the radio is on, she may be trying to escape the noise.
  • Excessive meowing or crying – Your cat may meow or cry more as a complaint about the radio sounds.
  • Aggression – Some cats show irritation with aggressive behaviors like biting or scratching when bothered by sounds.
  • Repetitive behaviors – Your cat may start obsessively grooming, pacing, or vocalizing due to stress from the radio.
  • Dilated pupils – Widened pupils can be a reaction to an uncomfortable stimuli like a bothersome noise.
  • Lack of appetite – An annoyed cat may lose interest in food when the radio is playing.

Pay attention to when your cat displays these signals in relation to the radio playing. If the behaviors start when the radio turns on and cease when it’s turned off, that’s a good indication your cat dislikes the sounds.


Overall, most cats show no strong preference for or against the radio being left on at home. Cats have very sensitive hearing and dislike loud sounds, but music at normal volumes usually does not bother them. Some cats may even find certain melodic music relaxing. However, cats can become stressed if exposed to loud or chaotic sounds for too long. It’s a good idea to monitor your cat’s reaction to sounds and create a calmer auditory environment if needed. While some individual cats may show a preference, there is no evidence that cats innately like or dislike human music and radio. The best approach is to provide a variety of enrichment activities for your cat, including some relaxing music options if they respond positively. Observe your cat’s unique personality and make adjustments to create a comfortable sound environment in your home.

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