We all know the Internet’s obsession with cats is borderline problematic. It could be argued that cats rule the Internet, and the term “cat video” has emerged as a time-wasting activity defining the better part of the last 10 years. One of the first viral cat memes, Keyboard Cat, has been viewed 41 million times on YouTube. Cats have been the subject of memes, particularly Grumpy Cat, now the subject of a wax figure at Madame Tussaud’s.
Nyan Cat, a cartoon cat with the body of a Pop Tart, has turned into a ringtone, wallpaper and even an app for Windows Phone, iO, and Android. Nyan Cat is also the subject of a cryptocurrency (artificial currency) called the Nyancoin. There’s wine for cats, a global collection of cat cafes primarily located in East Asia, Europe and North America where patrons can play with and even adopt cats (primarily because several cat cafes also serve a dual function as foster homes for cats), and of course, many other strange products marketed to cats.
The latest in a string of cat-themed products is an entire album of music for cats. Cats can hear higher-pitched sounds than human beings, which may make producing such an album a difficult endeavor. Composer David Teie, conductor and music director of the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra and a professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Music, says that there is a scientific way for cats to hear music. “Most of our sense of music comes from the womb,” he said. “We form an understanding of rhythm from our mother’s pulse. Cats establish theirs after birth from the sounds around them.”
Teie also says that the songs are “based on feline vocal communication and environmental sounds that pique the interest of cats,” and that the music was created with human voices and traditional instruments. There are three types of cat songs: Playful Kitty Ditties, which are said to “incorporate stylizations of some of the animal calls that are of great interest to cats” and “are meant to arouse interest and curiosity.” Cat Ballads imitate suckling sounds and “should be restful and pleasing for your kitty.” Feline Airs are said to be “based on the pulses of the purr” and “draw sympathetic emotions from the listener.” You can listen to samples of the cat songs here.
The study, which was published in Applied Animal Behavior Science, had 47 cats listen to human music. When the cats were interested in the science-made cat music, they rubbed their faces on the speakers. Erin McCarthy of MentalFloss.com tried the experiment with her own two cats, Oliver and Pearl. “Pearl really enjoyed the cat tunes. The only things she meows for more are her food and the string we use to get her to run around our apartment (she’s a lazy little kitty with a big appetite). When I played the music for her again this morning, this time on my laptop, she stalked around it, rubbing her face against the edges of the screen and occasionally trying to take a bite,” she said.
McCarthy also stated that the cat tunes can also be therapeutic for humans. “I’ll be downloading any cat songs Teie creates in the future—and not just for Pearl and Olly. I found that, after listening to them long enough, they became kind of soothing for me, too.”