What kind of music would your cat listen to? Would he or she be a head banger, rocking out to metal or more of a chill, jazz type feline? A Kickstarter campaign called Music For Cats can help you find out.
David Teie, a classically trained musician who has also worked with Echobrain, a rock group founded by former Metallica band member Jason Newsted, is the Music For Cats founder. The initial fundraising goal was a modest $20,000, which has already been met and surpassed. Over 10,000 backers have helped raise over $240,000 for this cause. Cats just seem like the kind of animals that would dig some good tunes. Indeed, 25 percent of a cat’s brain is strictly for hearing. Humans only devote a measly 3 percent to the same activity.
Teie’s mission to record music for cats started in 2008 when the Washington Post wrote that two songs he recorded “would have been major hits on the cat-music Billboard charts.” Turns out they were right. A study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science concluded that 77 percent of cats listening to Teie’s songs reacted positively. When other music was played for the same cats, no interest was shown.
So, is Teie a real-life Dr. Dolittle? Do the animals he pens music for simply communicate what they like and dislike? Not so much. There’s a bit more science and theory to it than that. In his book, “Human Music,” Teie theorizes the songs humans like can be traced back to what we hear in the womb as we’re developing. For example, we like drums and a good beat in our music because it reminds us of our mother’s heartbeat.
Teie set out to find what sounds other animals heard in the womb and composed music that would appeal to them. His first attempt was with monkeys, who hear high-pitched voices in the womb. He wrote two pieces; one for relaxation and one for rocking out. After testing the music on some cotton-top tamarins, he discovered the monkeys danced to the rock music and chilled out to the other tune.
Cats were Teie’s next target audience because they are domesticated pets and we can easily share music with them. In fact, just writing this makes me want to put a pair of headphones on my cat. Cats subconsciously get their taste for music outside of the womb. They react positively to their mother’s purring and birds chirping. The brief sample on the Kickstarter page is very relaxing, even for human ears. A harp plays 23 notes in a row to imitate the frequency of a cat purring.
There are certainly some challenges to overcome with the actual music recording, such as inventing entirely new instruments and researching what animals actually like, but the CD is expected to be completed early next year. Cats everywhere are already meowing their praises.