© 2023 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
JPR Classics is a place to come for all things classical in the State of Jefferson. We'll honor our rich classical heritage while looking to the future, showcasing inspired performances by the next generation of classical musicians. The classics live on JPR!

These Tunes Are Music To Your Cats' Furry Ears

Could this cat be enjoying "Spook's Ditty"?
Could this cat be enjoying "Spook's Ditty"?

When you leave the house, do you ever turn on some music to keep your cat company?

What kind do you choose? Tom Jones crooning "What's New Pussycat?" A ballad by Cat Stevens? Perhaps Al Stewart's "The Year of the Cat"?

Nonsense. Cats don't to want to hear humans singing about them, says composer and University of Maryland music professor David Teie.

Researchers at U.Md. and the University of Wisconsin have teamed up with Teie to make music that was more feline friendly.

Turns out Felis catusmight be more likely to respond to "Spook's Ditty," a track with lilting layers of high-pitched harp notes, played at 23 per second — the rate of a cat's purr, Teie says.

Listen to a sample of 'Spook's Ditty'

The harp is accompanied by birdlike chirps — but they're not meant to fool the cat.

"No cat's going to think, 'There's a bird,' any more than we would hear a violin and think that's a human voice," Teie says. No. "This is designed to kind of perk cats up."

Mind you, not every cat will consider Teie's music a kind of acoustic catnip.

"They have their personalities," he says. "Some of them are so touching. I get moved by hearing about how they come and cuddle and listen to the speaker."

Teie dreams of developing an app with different "purr instruments" to choose from.

"And so when the cat comes to your lap, you'd play one of these purrs for your cat as a kind of communication, so that it's not just a one-way communication," he says. "You can actually reach out and communicate with your kitty."

You and your favorite cat can listen to the music at the audio link above. Or sample other cat ballads and feline airs at Teie's web site, MusicforCats.com.

Share your results at Facebook.com/NPRWeekend.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR Staff