We like to dress up our kitties, buying them special effects like leather jackets for cats, comfy cat beds, the best cat food (dry and wet)
It sounds pretty crazy: humans compose music for animals. Musician David Teie has released the world’s first album for cats. How does the music for cats sound? And do the animals actually like them? Our author Kerstin Poppendieck let Katzen listen to the album.
This is what music for cats sounds like: a bit like a chillout lounge and a bit like experimental music. There is no singing, neither human nor animal. But that would also contradict the idea of David Teie, who wanted to compose an album out of sounds that cats like. To this end, in a scientific study together with biologists, he examined which sounds cats respond to positively. And there was no singing. So far, David Teie has played the cello in the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, taught at the university there, and composed – all for people. With his cat music now, he hopes to create a new bond between cat owner and cat.
“We humans love our pets. For many of us, they are like family members. These people hope to use music to better communicate with their cats. And if you need to leave them home alone, now you have something that’s specially made for your cats. People like the loving and caring spirit behind having music just for their cats.”
Cat owners may know this: You have to go to work and turn on the radio for Mitzi so that she doesn’t feel alone. Mitzi, however, doesn’t really care about the radio. The study found that no cat responded positively to our human music. Regardless of whether it was classical, jazz, or hip hop. Before David Teie started composing for animals, he was concerned with the question of which tones have a positive effect on us humans. His result: Music must contain sounds that we associate with something positive. He has now transferred that to cats.
“When we humans are born, the brain structures that are responsible for emotions are already almost fully formed. That’s why everything that sounds like a pulse has a positive effect on us because we heard it constantly in the womb. Since most of the brain in cats grows in the first few weeks after birth, the heart rate hardly plays a role for them. On the other hand, all cats hear the sucking sound when drinking milk from their mother. So what the pulse is for us humans, the sucking sound is for cats.”
Read also: Music For Dogs: How To Relax Together
Cats like violin
And so David Teie made a table in which he wrote in the left column what things touch us, humans, in music, and then in the right column, he looked for the cat equivalent of it. From this, he composed his music. For example, to imitate the suction sound, David Teie ran his fingernails across a canvas. But that wasn’t enough:
“Our drummer is bearded. At some point, he scratched his beard. I liked that, it actually sounds like a suck. So I used it. I also sprayed into a walnut with an aerosol can to make that sucking sound.
It was really difficult to produce a sound that sounds like what a cat hears because it sounds different than it does to us, humans. Cats don’t hear this sucking sound through the air but in their heads. Then certain frequencies are missing, which we humans hear in turn. It’s not about imagining what it would be like if I were a cat, but what it’s like for a cat to be a cat. Implementing that was the hardest part.”
In general, cats prefer tones that are an octave higher than our human tones. Therefore the violin was also a suitable instrument. Cello and keyboard work well too. David Teie used organ tones for the purring noises and then modified them to resemble a cat’s purr.
Okay, in theory, it all sounds exciting and convincing. But what does Lilly say about that? Lilly, my neighbor’s cat. Grey-white striped and somewhat reserved. Even today, when I pay her a visit, she immediately disappears behind the couch. I want to do something good for her.