See Spot ... Sing?

Lauren Kurkowski

Y’all like music, right? But have you ever wondered if your pets like music too? What are their favorite genres – classical, rock ‘n’ roll, inde?

It turns out animals do like music, or at least they respond to it emotionally. And thanks to UW-Madison animal psychologist Charles Snowdon, we can better understand our pets’ musical tastes.

According to this Yahoo article, Snowdon says that humans tend to like music with notes in our acoustic and vocal range, tempos that follow our heartbeat, and sounds that are familiar to us. Animals are the same way. But since different animals have different heartbeats and vocal ranges, the music they respond to is also different.

In an experiment, Snowdon’s research team, including cellist and composer David Teie, wrote two songs – one fast and one slow – for a few tamarins. The songs, which were about three octaves higher and twice as fast as our standard music, sounded awfully shrill to humans. But the monkeys reacted differently. They became agitated and active during the fast song, and they became calm and very sociable during the slower ballad.

Now Snowdon and Teie are studying cats and dogs, and they’re finding similar results. According to Yahoo, their findings are so promising that “Teie has started selling cat songs online (at $1.99 per song) through a company called “Music for Cats.”” And the team has found that some dogs, especially larger breeds like labs and mastiffs, have a vocal range and heart rate that is so similar to our own that they respond to human music. So those countless YouTube videos of dogs “singing” along with their humans? Yep, now we know why.