One solution when your cat’s being extra standoffish, or refusing to do your bidding, or just generally acting weird in the way that cats so often do: Put on some chill kitty tunes. As the Guardian recently reported, Universal Music has announced its plan to release an album just for cats — who, the label told the paper, “represent an untapped music market.”
The album is the brainchild of cellist David Teie, a music professor at the University of Maryland and the creator of Music for Cats, a project whose name pretty much says it all. Last year, Teie launched a Kickstarter to help him produce the songs, ultimately raising more than ten times the $20,000 goal. Here’s how he explained it on the fundraising page:
In 2003, amidst my career as a classical musician, I developed a universal theory of music. I set out to discover why humans have an emotional response to music and found that it’s tied to the sounds we heard when our brains are developing. For example, it’s because we heard our mother’s pulse in the womb that we like drums in our music; the sound intrigues us because it evokes heartbeats. It’s no coincidence that our mother’s resting heart rate is almost exactly the same pace as music we find relaxing …
Unlike humans, felines establish their sense of music outside of the womb, through sounds heard after they’re born, like the chirping of birds, the sucking of milk, or the purring of their mother. Using only musical instruments, I incorporated those sounds and their natural vocalizations into music and matched it to the frequency range they use to communicate. The reason harp notes play in rapid succession (23 per second!) is because that’s the precise rate of a cat’s purr.
The result? The purrfect way to relax your cat.
To that end, the songs on the new album will include “purring and suckling noises, as well as Teie on his cello accompanied by players from the US National Symphony Orchestra,” the Guardian wrote, and “is aimed at calming and bringing pleasure to cats, rather than getting them excited.”
As goofy as it seems, research suggests that Teie may be on to something: In a study Teie co-authored last year, published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, his feline research subjects appeared to show greater interest in music created just for them. An older study with monkeys yielded similar results. (In 2009, the New York Times included Teie’s monkey-specific music in its “Idea of the Year” roundup.)
“I am hoping that in a hundred years from now people will have to be taught that music was once only for humans,” Teie told the Guardian. “If you really look into it, what’s silly is the idea that only one species could have music available for it.” We’re still a ways from true human-feline equality, though — as the paper noted, “until cats get bank accounts, humans will have to pay for it.”