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I’m Learning to Play Ukulele — and My Cat is Fascinated

I thought Cosmo would be afraid of my uke, but he loves it, and I think he needs one of his own.

Angie Bailey  |  May 18th 2016


A few months ago, I decided it would be fun to learn a musical instrument. I’d never played one and had convinced myself I had zip in the musical talent department. Interesting, right? I’d made up this story about myself without having any evidence. I put a halt to my giant BS story and at least gave myself a chance.

A friend who was new to theĀ ukulele encouraged me to join her in learning how to play. I concluded it would be an affordable way to try my hand at an instrument that didn’t feel too intimidating. If Tiny Tim could do it, I could certainly dip my toe in the tulips.

Cosmo has a request.

Cosmo has a request.

Once I committed to getting my uke on, a very nice used one appeared out of nowhere. No, really — I’m serious. I planned to shop for one over a weekend, but it never happened. Then, on Monday morning, a neighbor posted on Facebook that he was selling his used ukulele and was anyone interested? I saw the post pop up and immediately replied with an enthusiastic “YES!” The Universe wants me to play the damn thing, I’m convinced of that.

I brought my little piece of destiny home and stared at it for a few days, second guessing my ability to make those strings sound more like music and less like a screaming cat. Then I picked it up and started learning basic chords. And nothing terrible happened!

Cosmo dreams of a kitty-size uke.

Cosmo dreams of a kitty-size uke.

Speaking of cats, I wondered how Cosmo would react to the strumming sounds in our apartment. He has always been a little skittish when it comes to weird noises, so I fully expected him to dive under the bed, afraid the tiny stringed monster would eat him. Much to my surprise, he was drawn to the sound of my practicing and began lying close to me as I practiced chords and played “Oh Susanna” about 28 times in a row. He didn’t even judge me when my G sounded all kinds of garbled.

I try to practice about an hour every day — sometimes time gets away from me and I wind up with sore fingers a couple of hours later. I love how creativity does that to a person. You get so into whatever you’re doing and time is no longer relevant. It’s kind of like those people who say they were abducted by aliens and literally lose time. Maybe I’ve been abducted by my ukulele. As long as it doesn’t start probing me, I’m totally cool with it.

"Why'd you stop?"

“Why’d you stop?”

When I take a break from practice, Cosmo sometimes thoroughly examines the musical instrument. He smells the wood and rubs his face on the neck. I think he wishes he could play it. I wish he could. I’d buy him his very own and we’d take our act on the road. I think people would line up around the block for the opportunity to watch a woman and a cat perform a ukulele duet of “Oh, Susanna” … like 28 times. #goals

I know you’re wondering, so I’ll go ahead and be straight with you: I make up songs about my cat. They’re not even good songs. I’m totally not sure which chord I’m playing sometimes, but it’s a hell of a good time and Cosmo seems to enjoy the attention. Of course the lyrics are all about being incredibly handsome and such a good, good boy. Who doesn’t want to hear that? I want someone to serenade me! Maybe if Cosmo does indeed get a tiny uke, he’ll write me a song; however, I’m sure it will be about the wonders of treats and early mealtimes. Hey, I’ll take what I can get.

Ukulele string and heartstrings.

Ukulele string and heartstrings.

Although my kitty is fascinated with my playing, there does come a point when he’s had enough and his attention shifts to crinkly ball toys or standing by his food bowl, hoping I’ll get a clue. Yes, I’ve practiced right through his dinner time. Sorry, Cosmo. It’s that whole “lost time” thing! I’m telling you — it’s true!

"See ya."

“See ya.”

I’ll let you know if Cosmo and I wind up going on tour. You’ll want front row seats for that one.

How does your cat react when you play a musical instrument? Tell us in the comments!