Buddy can sympathize, as he’s been subjected to the horrors of my singing voice in the car. I’m pretty sure he would’ve smacked me in the mouth too if he wasn’t in his carrier.
It seems we humans still have a lot of work to do in figuring out what kind of music sounds good to kitties. Bud was not a fan of Music for Cats, but he seems to dig funky music. And gangsta rap. He knows all the lyrics to every Notorious BIG track.
In case you didn’t know, music written specifically for cats is a thing.
I’d heard about it a while back, and the project seemed impressive: “Music for Cats” composer David Teie is a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, and he worked with animal behaviorists and veterinarians to come up with kitty-soothing sound textures and test the music’s efficacy on cats visiting the veterinarian.
A 2019 study in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery concluded “Music for Cats” could help our furry friends relax and ease their stress. Keeping in mind an earlier study that suggested cats prefer “feline-centric sounds,” Teie incorporated audio of events cats associate with happy times, like kittens suckling milk from their mothers.
Using Buddy as my test subject, I went to Youtube, selected the track Cozmo’s Air from “Music for Cats” and sat back, expecting Bud to start nodding his furry head at any moment.
Instead his ears pricked up, did their radar-dish swivel toward the speakers, and his eyes went wide. As the song gained volume and intensity, Bud’s ears and whiskers snapped back and he let out a clearly anxious “yerrrrrrrrrrppp!” I tried to calm him down, to no avail, and a second track didn’t improve things.
He wasn’t having it.
Teie’s cat music is back in the news with the release of the Kickstarter-backed Music for Cats 2, and there are quite a few imitators on Youtube hawking their own supposedly cat-soothing musical efforts. (Though your cat might think she’s in Guantanamo Bay if you subject her to six-hour videos of “cat lullabies.”)
Should I test some of the new music on Buddy to see if he responds more favorably? And for our fellow readers and cat servants, have you played any of this stuff for your cats? If you have, how’d it work out?
I tried that a few years ago after reading a story about composer David Teie, who’d designed tracks especially for felines, incorporating tones and rhythms that supposedly have a calming influence on cats.
Here I was thinking it would be something nice for my cat, so I queued up one of the tracks — and Buddy lost his shit!
Bud’s reaction didn’t leave any room for ambiguity: Ears flattened to his head, whiskers pulled back, crouched in a defensive position and hissing at the TV. It was a full-fledged freak-out.
As anyone who’s read this blog knows, Buddy’s a weirdo even among cats, so I don’t doubt Mr. Teie’s music does calm some kitties. Just not this one.
After that experience you can understand how I was hesitant to give “cat TV” a go. Turns out I was worried over nothing.
Buddy usually ignores the TV, but when the video started and the first bird flittered on screen, pecking at some seeds scattered on a tree stump, little man got really interested.
After a few seconds he settled in like a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons, mesmerized as he stared up at the screen.
There were a few times when he looked back at me over his shoulder, seeking a bit of social reassurance as if to say “Can I watch the birdies, Big Bud?” Then he started chirping!
Cat TV isn’t all about the visuals. Sound plays a key element and Paul Dinning, the Youtuber who produces the videos, captures an omnidirectional array of flutters, birdsong and the background hum of nature.
Buddy bounced on the balls of his feet once or twice as if he was ready to pounce on the screen, but he never did. He didn’t look for birds behind the TV either, which is apparently a common reaction. Maybe he understands what he’s seeing isn’t real, but he’s entertained nonetheless.
So it’s with Buddy’s ringing endorsement I can report cat TV is legitimate kitty entertainment. If you ever need to buy yourself an hour or two to get something done without a furry personal assistant getting in the way, cat TV can provide a nice distraction.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.