A recently published study in the journal Applied Animal Behavioral Science concludes that cats prefer "species-appropriate" music.
"We have developed a theoretical framework that hypothesizes that in order for music to be effective with other species, it must be in the frequency range and with similar tempos to those used in natural communication by each species," write study authors Charles Snowdon and Megan Savage, both psychologists at the University of Wisconsin, and David Teie, a musician who has collaborated with Snowdon on the study of species-specific music for the better part of a decade. For instance, Snowden and his colleagues propose feline-appropriate music might mimic the rhythmic and tonal qualities of a purr, or a kitten suckling at its mother's teat.
"Cats showed a significant preference for and interest in species-appropriate music compared with human music," the researchers write. Expressions of approval included purring, and orienting the head toward, moving toward, rubbing against, or sniffing the speaker from which the music was emanating. "The results suggest novel and more appropriate ways for using music as auditory enrichment for nonhuman animals," the researchers conclude.