Do cats listen to you

This article was co-authored by Brian Bourquin, DVM. Brian Bourquin, better known as “Dr. B” to his clients, is a Veterinarian and the Owner of Boston Veterinary Clinic, a pet health care and veterinary clinic with three locations, South End/Bay Village, the Seaport, and Brookline, Massachusetts. Boston Veterinary Clinic specializes in primary veterinary care, including wellness and preventative care, sick and emergency care, soft-tissue surgery, dentistry. The clinic also provides specialty services in behavior, nutrition, and alternative pain management therapies using acupuncture, and therapeutic laser treatments. Boston Veterinary Clinic is an AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited hospital and Boston’s first Fear Free Certified Clinic. Brian has over 19 years of veterinary experience and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University.

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Many people think getting a cat to listen to commands is impossible. This is not the case. While cats can be more challenging to train than dogs, with time and patience you can get a cat to listen to you better. To start, establish a rewards system. Find a way to make your cat understand when it is behaving well. Train your cat daily, in short sessions, so it understands appropriate behavior. Correct poor behavior in the moment, but do so gently. Punishing your cat will only succeed in stressing it out and may actually encourage poor behavior.

We all know how therapeutic music can be and using this form of therapy for cats could be a no-brainer for some, but do cats like music? Thanks to numerous studies and scientific experiments, it’s safe to say that some cats enjoy specific types of music. However, understanding cat senses and cat hearing facts is key when it comes to analyzing this topic. If cats like specific types of music, which genre of music are we talking about exactly? Do cats like classical music, rap or metal? And, if cats hear differently to humans, then how do cats interpret human music?

For more about whether or not cats like music, or rather, which music cats like, keep reading here at AnimalWised.

  1. Do cats like music: cat hearing
  2. Do cats like classical music: what cats hear
  3. Species-appropriate music: music for cats
  4. Do cats like music?

Do cats like music: cat hearing

Cars rely largely on their sense of smell to communicate. However, according to experts, cats also use hearing and sound as a way of expressing or feeling. In fact, cats have the ability of vocalizing 12 different sounds which all vary in meaning. But what’s important to understand is that cats hear differently to humans. A cat’s sense of hearing and/or way of detecting sound is incredibly intricate and can be measured through both duration, frequency and intensity.

In order to understand why or how cats hear, let’s take a look at this measurement in hertz. Hertz is the unit of frequency of a vibratory movement which in this case is sound. The level of hertz per species vary, for example:

  • Wax moth: (the highest quality auditory), up to 300 kHz.
  • Dolphins: from 20 Hz to 150 kHz (seven times more than humans).
  • Bats: from 50 Hz to 20 kHz.
  • Dogs: from 10,000 to 50,000 Hz (four times more than humans).
  • Cats: from 30 to 65,000 Hz. (Explains a lot, right?).
  • Humans: between 20 Hz up to 20,000 Hz (most acute).

Understanding cat behavior as a cat owners is key in making sure your cat lives a happy and healthy life. Discover how do cats communicate here!

Do cats like classical music: what cats hear

So, do cats like music or not? Well, it depends. When trying to understand how cats hear and what cats like to listen to, we need to look at exactly how cats associate various sounds. For example, when cats hear high-pitched sounds (close to 65,000 Hz) it corresponds to calls of kittens for their mothers or siblings. However, more serious sounds (those of less Hz) are associated with adult cats on alert that feel threatened.

One of the most interesting facts when it comes to cat sound and hearing is that a cat’s ‘‘meow’’ is actually an ‘invention of animal domestication.’ What we mean by this is that a cat’s ‘meow’, if it weren’t for their need to communicate with humans, should technically disappear after being weaned. The meow is not a standard form of feline communication and is mainly only used by kittens who need their mother’s attention. Meows are short sounds of 0.5 to 0.7 seconds that can reach up to 3 or 6 seconds, depending on the severity of need from the kitten.These ‘kitten calls’ are usually voiced in cases of cold, hunger or danger. Studies show that cold calls can also occur up to 4 weeks of life and are usually the most acute. Calls of solitude are usually longer in duration and maintained, while those of confinement hold greater gravity.

A cat’s purr, unlike kitten calls, is usually maintained throughout its life. A cat’s snorts or grunts, which are more serious tones, indicate a threat or concern. And then we also have a cat’s mating call, which are more prolonged forms of vocalizations [1] .

Are you interested in finding out what each cat sound means in more detail? If so, take a look at our article where we discover the 11 sounds cats make and what they mean.

Species-appropriate music: music for cats

Many applied animal behavior scientists have also begun replicating cat sounds in order to offer felines ‘species-appropriate music’. Species-appropriate music is a genre that is based off of natural cat vocalization that has been matched with music of the same frequency range. The aim of this such study was to use music as a way of auditory enrichment for a nonhuman ear, and according to studies, it has proven to be successful [2] .

Within this realm of animal music therapy we also find that there are some classical musicians, such as Felix Pando, who offer specific “Classical music for dogs and cats” (which can be downloaded online).

For more, you may also be interested in knowing which sounds to avoid when it comes to our precious felines. Discover them in our article, what sounds do cats hate?

Do cats like music?

In conclusion, we recommend offering your cat ‘species-appropriate’ music to enjoy. However, if not possible, we can garner that classical music is a preferred music genre for cats. But why? This is because cats tend to enjoy harmonic sounds and softer genres of music as it maintains relaxation.

It’s also important to remember that some cats may not be able to associate with human music, unless it falls within an appropriate frequency range which is specific to a cat’s ear. Several studies actually show that some cats prefer silence over human music.

Want to test this theory? Try out our video from AnimalWised YouTube!

If you want to read similar articles to What Music do Cats Like?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

1 Schötz, S., Eklund, R., & van de Weijer, J. (2016, June). Melody in human–cat communication (meowsic): Origins, past, present and future. In Proceedings of Fonetik (Vol. 13, p. 15).

2 Chiandetti, C. (2016). Commentary: Cats prefer species-appropriate music. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 594.

1 Schötz, S., Eklund, R., & van de Weijer, J. (2016, June). Melody in human–cat communication (meowsic): Origins, past, present and future. In Proceedings of Fonetik (Vol. 13, p. 15).

Chiandetti, C. (2016). Commentary: Cats prefer species-appropriate music. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 594


If lethargy, mucus, blood, diarrhea, vomiting or loss of appetite accompany a cat’s cough or are present on their own, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Do cats listen to you

If you notice that your cat has developed a cough, you should not ignore it. This symptom can mean that your cat has developed a more serious condition, such as heart disease, or a minor condition, such as a hairball. If you have the expertise, you can listen to your cat’s lungs with a stethoscope. If you hear any irregular sounds, you should contact your veterinarian right away.

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Step 1

Locate your cat’s lungs. On a cat, the lungs are located just before the bottom of the final rib.

Step 2

Put the earpieces of the stethoscope in your ears. Be sure the room you’re in is quiet so you can hear your cat’s lungs accurately.

Step 3

Place the head of the stethoscope on your cat’s chest. The area toward the middle of your cat’s chest is the best place to listen to the lungs.

Step 4

Listen to several different areas besides the middle of the chest, including both sides and the neck area. If you hear any abnormal sound, including fluid, wheezing or a crackling sound, consult your veterinarian.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

If you sometimes secretly wish your Fluffy were more like Fido in the teachability to do fun things or you’d simply like her to obey the household rules (such as no jumping on the counter), you’ll be glad to know that you can teach an old (or young) cat new tricks and behavior modifications. Ahead, we asked Allene Tartaglia, executive director of the Cat Fanciers’ Association, for her tips to make it easier for both of you.

Pick a trainable behavior and be realistic about your expectations.

Just like dogs, some cats are easier to teach than others, but success really depends on the type of training. “Teaching a cat to run an agility course with obstacles is completely different from ‘training’ a cat to not jump on a countertop,” explains Tartaglia. “In general, cats are more inclined to do what they want to do whereas a dog lives to please its owner.” If you’re trying to train a cat to do tricks, consider clicker training, which involves positive reinforcement.

One of the most popular training ideas is walking a cat on a leash. Leash-training works better when Fluffy is naturally relaxed rather than one who’s generally cautious and fearful, according to the American Humane Society. It suggests letting your cat get used to wearing a special harness and then a leash indoors. This treat training method will create a positive association with the gear and that’ll make taking her for a walk outdoors easier. Other reasonable behavioral training is using a litter box, feeling comfortable inside her carrier , and coming when called.

How Do Cats Respond to Bird Sound Recordings?

If you’ve ever whistled at your cat, or blown a toy whistle, your feline might have given you a rather feisty reaction. Many cats react to whistle-blowing, for good reason: cats have superior hearing skills, and high-pitched sounds often remind them of their high-pitched prey–birds, rodents and other small animals.

Anatomy 101: The Ear

A cat’s ear is a sensitive organ that helps with balance and hearing. The external ear is comprised of the ear flap and canal; the middle ear, the eardrum and auditory small bones; and the inner ear, semicircular canals for balance, and cochlea and the organ of hearing for hearing. Amazingly, a cat can rotate its ears separately, like two individual satellites, to pick up the minutest of sounds, helping them locate prey.

Ultrasonic Cat

If you think dogs have good hearing, cats have extraordinary aural faculties. According to Karen Commings’ “Cats’ Sense of Hearing,” cats are able to hear sounds from 45 to 60,000 hertz, while humans can only hear from 20 to 20,000 hertz. Any sound above that upper limit (20,000) is considered “ultrasonic,” which means your sedate-looking cat may really be taking in all kinds of sounds that neither you nor the dog will ever hear.

The Cat Stalker

The ability to hear ultrasonic sounds is what gives a cat its advantage in the wild. High-pitched sounds made by birds and small rodents, like mice and chipmunks, are easily detected by your cat’s acute sense of hearing. That’s why your cat may be drawn to the sound of a whistle: his instincts kick in and he seeks out what he believes is his prey. He’s not really agitated–he’s suddenly engaged in his environment.

Using a Whistle as a Training Tool

Sound can be used to train your cat from acting out unwanted behaviors, like jumping on the kitchen counter. Allowing the environment (rather than you) to punish the cat is called “remote correction.” According to Cornell University, connect an unpleasant sound–like blowing a whistle or ringing a bell–with the behavior you want to get rid of. As your cat is about to do the unwanted behavior, startle him with the noise, and say nothing.

Sound as Stress

Using sound to eliminate your cat’s unwanted behavior is one thing, but there are times when noise actually can stress your kitty. Acoustic stress is caused by loud noises and especially affects felines, according to Vet Street. Fluorescent light bulbs, light dimmers, some CRT and LCD displays and tea kettles emit the types of noise likely to disturb your cat. Vet Street recommends turning these types of devices down, or playing low-volume, calming classical music.

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