pets and music
Author, Darlene Wagner for Professional Pet Sitting Etc.
Pets and music, do you think our pets like it? Do you leave the radio on for your pet to keep him company while you’re away from home? Do you imagine him enjoying the music, perhaps wagging his tail or purring to the beat, getting extra excited when “his song” plays? Do you assume that since your favorite band is Nickelback, your pet’s favorite band is Nickelback? As it turns out, cats and dogs have vastly different hearing compared to their pet parents, and the music you play for them may not be appreciated as much as you’d think.
Your Cat’s Hearing
Cats have excellent hearing. They’re also quite adept at filtering out all of the less relevant noises in their life. For example, you may notice your cat immediately runs to your side upon hearing his pouch of “Temptations” treats open, but will flat out ignore you when you call him to you. Believe it or not, a cat’s hearing is two times as sensitive as a dog’s, while dogs have hearing that is five times more sensitive than a human’s.
Cats also have an amazing ability to hear very quiet noises, as well as higher frequencies. They can hear noises that humans are completely unaware of.
Your Dog’s Hearing
A dog’s superior hearing allows him to hear higher frequencies, too, and dogs with upright ears are better able to precisely locate and amplify sound, thanks to the 18 muscles that control their ears. His ears can pick up sounds that mere human ears cannot, making many dogs more susceptible to a fear of loud noises.
Your Musical Preference vs. Your Pet’s
When we determine we like a song, it isn’t based only on what we hear, but also the interpretation. Our response to a song can be based on our experiences, emotions, memories and other feelings that the music evokes. We tend to respond to music that is similar in tone to our own speaking range and heart rate. Since cats and dogs hear differently and much better than us, they do not ‘hear’ the world in the same way we do. So the chance that your pet enjoys the exact same music you do is as great as the chance that you would enjoy eating his food.
Theoretically, a larger dog may have a more similar taste in music to that of his humans, since their heart rates are similar; but a smaller dog and a cat, with a much faster heart rate, would likely prefer music that is entirely different from his human’s favorites.
In 2002, a psychologist and animal behaviorist undertook a research program to determine the influence of five types of auditory stimulation on shelter dogs. Her findings showed dogs of all sizes bark less and spend more time resting when listening to classical music versus heavy metal, pop, no music at all and human conversation. The findings suggested the same musical choice would likely be a favorite for cats, too.
Before you rush out and buy a bunch of classical CDs for your pet, pay attention to your pet’s behavior when music is playing. If your pet remains relaxed, chances are he is amenable to the music playing. But, if your pet moves away from the sound or appears uncomfortable, try a different tune. You may be surprised to find Fido or Fluffy actually prefers Metallica over Mozart!
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Dorinne Whynott, is a long time animal professional. She is a successful business owner establishing one of the largest pet sitting companies in New Hampshire since 1990. Click to Read her complete History.
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