Do Cats Really Need Tunes When You’re Gone?

Music and cats – do felines need their own tunes?

With their sensitive ears, mysterious nature, and tendency towards independent living, the musical preferences of cats have been a source of speculation and curiosity for cat owners. Do cats even appreciate music in the first place? Can music provide therapeutic benefits or help soothe anxious kitties? In this article, we delve into the science and research behind cats and music to uncover how tunes impact our feline friends.

Music has long been used in other contexts to calm animals, with evidence that certain genres and tempos can reduce stress in species ranging from horses to dogs. As independent creatures with singular personalities, cats may seem difficult to study when it comes to measuring reactions to external stimuli like sound. However, experts have made progress unlocking the secrets of the feline auditory system and how music may factor in. With more cat owners experimenting with music for their pets, we survey the reported effects as well as best practices according to animal behavior specialists.

Cats’ Hearing Abilities

Cats are known to have excellent hearing abilities compared to humans. According to research by Heffner (1985), the domestic cat’s hearing range extends from 48 Hz to 85 kHz, with peak sensitivity between 1-16 kHz. This gives cats one of the widest hearing ranges among mammals and far exceeds the typical human hearing range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

Cats can detect sounds at much lower thresholds than humans can. For example, they can hear frequencies up to 64 kHz at 60 dB sound pressure level (SPL), while humans can only hear up to 20 kHz at this volume. Cats also hear lower frequency sounds better than humans. They detect frequencies as low as -8 dB SPL at 60 Hz compared to humans who hear low frequencies at just 4 dB SPL or louder.

Thanks to their specialized ears, cats can rotate their ears to precisely locate the source and direction of sounds. Their wide hearing range allows cats to detect high-pitched sounds like rodent squeaks and low rumbles like seismic activity. So while music spans the range of human hearing, cats can detect sounds in music that are imperceptible to our ears.

Cats’ Response to Music

Research has documented various reactions of cats to different types of music. According to a 2015 study, cats generally do not respond positively to human music genres like pop, rock or jazz. However, the study found that cats showed a more relaxed behavioral response to classical music compared to human pop music or silence. When exposed to classical music, cats showed less frequent shaking, grooming, exploring and walking, suggesting a calmer state.

In terms of preferred instruments and genres, research indicates cats may have a preference for string instruments. A 2022 article notes that cats tend to respond best to music that mimics purring or nature sounds, with instruments like harp, violin and piano being the most favorable. The tempos and tones of classical music may be more soothing and preferable for cats over other human genres involving vocals, drums, guitar and complex arrangements.

Potential Benefits of Music

Several studies have shown that playing music for cats can offer potential mental and emotional benefits. Music has been found to help reduce stress and anxiety in cats.

In one study, shelter cats exhibited less stress behaviors and more relaxed posture when exposed to classical music compared to rock music or no music ( The classical music seemed to have a calming effect and lower the cats’ anxiety levels in the shelter environment.

In addition to reducing anxiety, music may provide mental stimulation for cats. Species-specific music with tones and tempos adapted for cats can pique their interest. Cats have a keen sense of hearing, so they may be intrigued by complex auditory stimuli. Soft, calming cat music gives their brains some sensory enrichment when left alone at home.

Considerations for Cat Music

When playing music for cats, it’s important to consider the volume level. Cats have much more sensitive hearing than humans, so the music should never be too loud. According to, “Music for cats should never be too loud. Since cats have a much more sensitive hearing than humans, keep the volume down!”

Loud music over 85 decibels can potentially cause hearing damage in cats with prolonged exposure (Hepper). It’s generally recommended to keep music under 75-80 decibels to be safe for cats. As one Reddit user advised, “70-80db is loud enough. And i would guess your cat would leave if the sound bothered him” (Reddit).

It’s also important to consider the cat’s musical preferences and play music that creates a calming environment for them. The music selection should take into account the cat’s personality and what types of music they respond positively to. Gentle classical music or calming nature sounds are often good places to start.

Music Alternatives

While music can be one option to keep cats entertained, there are various other enrichment activities to consider when you’re away from home that can stimulate your cat mentally and physically:

Toys like food puzzle feeders, treat balls, toy mice, and feather wands can engage a cat’s natural hunting instincts. Rotating different toys keeps them novel and interesting. Placing toys in different locations around the home encourages cats to explore and hunt. Interactive toys like laser pointers can be fun when owners are home, but aren’t useful for cats alone.

Videos like those from shelters or wildlife channels can capture a cat’s visual attention. Some cats enjoy watching other animals like birds and fish on a tablet or TV. However, video entertainment may overstimulate or stress out some cats.

Window perches, cat trees, and climbing shelves allow cats to survey their territory from up high. A room with a window view provides mental stimulation as cats observe the outdoors. Install a bird feeder outside for extra entertainment.

Another cat in the home provides social interaction, play, and companionship. However, some cats prefer being alone. Cat-proofed spaces allow shy cats to retreat.

Ultimately, the best enrichment when away depends on your cat’s personality – confident vs. timid, playful vs. leisurely. Observe what engagements keep your unique cat happy and relaxed.

Owner Testimonials

Many cat owners have shared anecdotes about their cats responding positively to music. On Reddit, one user commented that cat-specific music lowered stress behaviors in their cat. They noticed their cat was calmer and less anxious when music designed for cats was playing in the home.

The blog Meowtel also shared a story from a cat owner who observed their pet being drawn to slower, calmer music (Meowtel). The owner noticed their cat would often curl up and relax when classical music was played on low volume. Anecdotal experiences like this suggest many cats may benefit emotionally from listening to certain genres and types of music.

Overall, cat owners find introducing music can provide enrichment, comfort, and stress relief for home alone cats. Owners emphasize the importance of tailoring the music to the cat’s preferences and listening habits.

Expert Opinions

Veterinarians have mixed opinions on playing music for cats. Some believe it can have calming effects, while others advise caution. According to Dr. Rachel Barrack, a certified veterinary behaviorist, “Cats have very sensitive hearing, so playing music too loud can cause undue stress.” She notes classical music played at a low volume may help anxious cats relax (

However, Dr. Liran Katz, a veterinary behaviorist, warns against leaving music on for cats all day while owners are away. He states, “Cats need peace and quiet for a good chunk of their day. Music all day long can be bothersome and stressful.” Excessive noise may increase cats’ stress hormones and contribute to anxiety (

Overall, experts agree any music played should be soothing and calm. Loud, jarring music could potentially harm cats’ sensitive hearing and cause stress. Music should be played at a low volume for limited amounts of time, not continuously throughout the day. Owners should closely observe their cat’s reaction and adjust the music accordingly.


When it comes to playing music for cats, there are some best practices to follow. First, it’s generally recommended to stick to music that has slower tempos, simple melodies, and soft volumes, as this type of music is the most soothing for cats. Classical music, soft jazz, and light acoustic music tend to work well (

Music can be beneficial for cats in the following situations:

  • When a cat is home alone during the day, as gentle background music can help them feel less lonely.
  • For senior cats, as it can have a calming effect.
  • For anxious or stressed cats, as relaxing music helps lower stress levels.
  • To provide enrichment and mental stimulation.
  • To mask outside noises that may frighten or disturb a cat.

It’s best to keep the volume relatively low and give the cat the option to move away if they don’t enjoy it. Observe the cat’s reaction and adjust the type and volume of music accordingly ( Only play music when you are not home if you know your specific cat enjoys it.


To recap, cats have very sensitive hearing and can detect a wide range of sound frequencies. While they may not enjoy or react to music in the same way humans do, some evidence suggests certain types of music may provide benefits for cats.

Soft, calming classical or specially designed cat music can potentially help relieve stress and anxiety in some cats. Slow tempos and melodies may be preferred over complex, loud music. However, the effects can vary between individual cats based on their unique personalities and preferences.

There are other ways to provide soothing sounds for cats too, like audiobooks or TV voices. Ultimately, it’s best to pay attention to your own cat’s reactions rather than relying on broad assumptions. Monitor them closely and adjust any music played accordingly to maximize the benefits.

Though more research is still needed, music may be one useful tool in an owner’s toolkit for providing a relaxing, enriched environment for cats. But it should be tailored to your individual cat’s demonstrated likes and dislikes. Most importantly, music should never be used to replace other vital forms of stimulation and interaction.

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