There are tons and tons of materials on how humans react to music. But very little is known about how pets behave when music is played. If you have pets, you may not have tried to observe how they behave when music is played.
But the truth is that as living beings, pets react to sounds. But do they respond to music the same way humans do? Do pets appreciate certain types of music? Are there myths that are propounded on the reaction of pets to music?
We all know that pets exhibit lots of emotions. We know because we see when our pets are happy, sad, excited, or depressed. It only makes sense to believe that music would play a role in how pets behave.
This article will explore all these issues and look at the science of how pets react to music. But one thing is sure: pets hear sounds, and pets can perceive music. How they do this is what we’ll observe.
Do Animals Understand Music?
Animals eat, grow, fall sick and die. Animals may be very smart, but their brains aren’t as developed as that of humans. Animals hear sounds just like they see, taste, and feel. Indeed, animals would also listen to music. But do they understand music? Or can they?
Understanding has to be properly contextualized. This can’t be about understanding lyrics. Lyrics are in words that may be too advanced for animals. But we know that music is an arrangement of sounds.
We know of charmers who could use specific sounds to control snakes. Dogs are known to react to certain sounds, and even birds are known to “sing” to each other.
Researchers have found out over the years that animals react differently to music, but most of the time sounds similar to the very sounds the animals make often elicit reactions. To that extent, animals understand music.
They may not show the kind of animated reaction humans offer when listening to music they love. Humans understand many music parts, including rhythm, melodies, lyrics, and more. Animals only perceive sounds.
The most favored pets are dogs and cats. So, researchers studied how these two pets react to music. Their studies revealed that pets (cats and dogs) indeed understand music. The studies also show that they react to music differently.
For example, maybe because they give higher pitches themselves, cats are known to respond better to higher-tempo music. Dogs, meanwhile, are known to show a better understanding of songs that are slow and have a low frequency.
We now know that animals react to music specifically made for them from research. This is more applicable to cats. However, before you get excited and purchase an excellent music compilation for your pet, most animals do not respond to or understand traditional music.
One animal that showed an incredible reaction to music is the cow. When cool, slow music is played, cows have shown signs of great satisfaction and indeed produce more milk. However, cows detest fast-paced sounds. Once it is slow, they react positively.
Many animals have been studied to observe their reaction to music and the conclusion is that pets react differently to different music paces. In contrast, only a few animals show no reaction at all to music sounds.
Music for Cats
Cats and dogs enjoy music differently. Dogs enjoy human music, although they prefer it slow. Cats do not have a preference for human music but love music. Don’t get confused. It means exactly what you think. Music for cats!
The idea is to have songs that sound as close to how they communicate. Music for cats must be made of sounds that cats can relate to.
Researchers found that cats that showed no appreciation of human songs were moved when appropriate sounds for cats were played. This is what scientists call species-specific music.
Cats can hear sounds of three times higher frequencies than humans can. This is more applicable to cats because they have different hearing frequencies than humans.
With extremely sensitive whiskers that can also pick up sounds, cats react very strongly to sounds that don’t fit their mode of music. So if a composer hasn’t designed the song specifically for the hearing of cats, it may not work.
Most classical music would fit the description of what a cat loves, but sounds can be composed explicitly for cats. Therefore, their mode of music is any sound that can easily mimic how they communicate themselves. That would eliminate high-sounding bass sounds or heavy metal.
Music for Dogs
As we said earlier, dogs showed significant reactions to slow and classical music. However, that doesn’t mean that dogs understand classical music. Animals don’t hear sounds the same way we do.
Sometimes, dogs hear music that sounds like a dog howling, joining in immediately. It may not mean they enjoy the sound; it only sounds like something they can relate to.
When dogs appear stressed, music can be of help. A study found that hospitalized dogs recovered faster when harp music was played to them. Another study found out that certain restless dogs on all fours were able to calm down and sit still for a long time when classical music was played to them.
Dogs are known to hate loud noises. Some dogs do not like thunderstorms. So this plays a role in how dogs react to music. Some dogs, however, are known not to react to noise.
Such dogs are also known not to show any reaction to music. Sometimes, dogs may even relax to an audiobook when they have anxiety disorders. The smooth, soothing nature of the sounds from the audiobook may be enough to help them stay calm.
Having said that, there’s no one song that all dogs love, but the majority of dogs have shown preferences for reggae, classical music, and slow songs.
On one end, you have fast-paced music like heavy metal, which prompts animated and nervous reactions, and on the other, you have classical songs that make dogs relax. In the middle is pop music, which has been shown to affect dogs in no way in particular.
Music for other pets
Depending on the kind of pets you have, music can play an essential role in keeping them relaxed. There is hardly any pet that enjoys listening to loud, hard music. Most pets always want sounds that relax their nerves. Pets would naturally enjoy music that sounds like their own.
Parrots love music with beats because they can keep to a beat, cows love slow music, and horses tend to appreciate martial music.
Pets do not listen to music the way humans do, but they appreciate it all the same. Cats enjoy music that is designed specifically for them because they have a high hearing frequency.
If you’re interested in treating your pets to great sounds, you can always find songs created specifically for them. But whatever the pet you have, there’s a music genre that would make life better for them.