Do you sing to your cats? One of our writers sings to her cats and even makes up funny cat songs — and we bet she’s not alone. Check out her stories and advice for how to sing to your cats, plus insights from an expert on what your cats really think of your singing!
How I Started Singing to My Cats
One afternoon I found myself singing to my cat, Forest. I believe that I was singing a rendition of “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” and strategically inserting Forest’s name, such as, “When they see Forie comin’ in a surrey.”
As I sang while Forest ate, I stepped into the bathroom (just off the kitchen) and continued my tune. I figured that Forest had quit eating and carried on his way.
I exited the bathroom to see him still on the sink, watching for me to return. He had been listening to me sing the whole time. I snapped his picture, kissed him and continued my serenade.
What Do Cats Hear When We Sing?
“Cats hear higher frequencies than dogs or humans,” says Steve Dale, certified animal behavior consultant, contributor to The Cat: Clinical Medicine and Management edited by Dr. Susan Little, and member of the Board of Directors for the Winn Feline Foundation. “Our sense of hearing is in a range of 20 hertz up to 20 kilohertz. Dogs hear up to 40 kilohertz and a cat’s hearing jumps into the higher-pitched range of 60 kilohertz. So, does that mean cats prefer sopranos in women and tenors in guys? Maybe. Anecdotally, the answer could be yes. But the studies lining up baritones to sopranos to see what cats prefer hasn’t been done.”
How to Edit Songs for Your Cats
Inserting my cats’ names into my tunes makes them know I am speaking to them. Even if other words are gibberish to them, they know their names. I also insert their nicknames, and they respond.
What to Sing to Your Cats
I would never belt out a loud, scary song. My selections include musical tunes, lullabies, Christmas carols, hymns or a blend of different melodies as the mood strikes me. For each ballad, I only sing a few lines or a chorus.
“There have been some studies to determine the specific musical genre cats enjoy,” Dale says. “Some studies suggest that cats will relax and some act less anxious in a shelter environment when classical music is played. There’s no way to determine if it is the music drowning out the sounds of other cats (and potentially barking dogs and annoying people) that’s calming cats or if it is the music itself. There are CDs of music specifically composed for cats, some feature higher-pitched music, which makes perfect sense.
Dale continues: “From a 2015 study in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science, cats seem to appreciate cat music based on scientists creating tunes, which sounded like cats purring at times, and other cat sounds, all in the upper registers. Hardly the kind of tunes even a cat lover like Taylor Swift might write because there is no cadence which may be considered appropriate for the human ear. The researchers called this music ‘species specific’ and indeed the cats seemed to be far more responsive to the music specifically composed with them in mind.”
Songs My Cats Seem to Love
Little Bunny Foo Foo — “Little Bunny Foo Foo, hopping through the Forest, scooping up the field mice and boppin’ ‘em on the head.”
The Hills are Alive — “The hills are alive with the sound of Jackie!”
Chim Chim Cher-ee — “Chim chim cher-oo! I love you little Forie, I love you, I do!”
I Feel Pretty — “And I pity, any dog that isn’t Truckie today.”
You are My Sunshine — “Please don’t take my Josie away.”
Getting to Know You — “Getting to know Joan, getting to hope Joan likes me, too”
My Funny Valentine — “You’re my sunny funny Forie Valentine, my Forest-ita Valentine”
Original Cat Songs That I’ve Made Up
Hairy Nipples — “Forie’s got some hairy nipples, he’s a hairy nippled boy!”
Crunch-itas — “Crunch-itas — little crunchy crunchies.”
Trucker Josiah Toot Toot Tater Head — “Trucker Josiah Toot Toot Tater heady-head”
Josie Bear — “Josie Bear! Oh, Josie Bear, Oh, Josie Bear.”
I also must note a special “Happy Birthday Dance” jingle that is performed yearly to commemorate each of their births.
How My Cats React When I Sing to Them
Sometimes, I’ll pause during a melody and invite my cats to join me, but my “Sing it to me, Forie!” is usually met with a blank stare and silence.
I’ve conducted singing experiments before, while lying across my bed or on the living room floor. Sure enough, if I sing and they are in the room, they gather next to me for petting and kisses.
In my observation, my cats react to singing like I am their mother purring, comforting them as she did when they were babies.
I have tested this singing reaction with other people’s pets that I have babysat and with my mom’s cats when I visit her. If they have never heard singing in person, the reaction can bring a little hesitation — but once they associate touch with voice they seem to relax.
Singing to Your Cats or Other Pets? You’re Not Alone!
A quick online search revealed that I’m not alone in my desire to sing to my pets.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association‘s Ninth Annual Pet Owner Survey, 65 percent of pet owners sing and/or dance before their pets. Some, they say, “have created little jingles they sing to their pets at suppertime.”
“For some cats, it’s not only the pattern of the song and the tone of voice — it’s also the attention from people in a non-threatening manner that is appealing,” Dale says. “Certainly, when someone’s cat already feels comfortable with their owner singing to them — many cats appreciate it. But beware, cats are discerning critics, and some may snooze or even walk away.”
“For years, cat behavior consultants (myself included) advised that when bringing a new cat into a household, to put that cat in to a separate refuge room, away from other cats and to close the door of the room,” Dale explains. “Periodically, visit the frightened cat armed with an interactive play toy and a children’s book. The pattern of reading these books is often poetic or ‘sing-songy,’ and we tend to read them in a higher-than-usual voice, and read slowly. There’s no data, I am aware of, regarding how or why this helps — but it seems to help to relax frightened cats. And for years I’ve said, ‘Sing a little children’s rhyme in a soft, quiet voice.’”
As for me, my playlist of song “originals” continues to grow. Perhaps I should start recording these tunes and playing them for my pets when I am not home. Maybe I have a hit single for a recording industry niche?
One thing is certain — at my house, I’m a celebrity singer. There is always an attentive furry audience and that’s what matters most.
Tell us: Do you sing to your cats? What songs do you sing? What types of music do they seem to love?
Thumbnail: Photography by Murika/Thinkstock.
Read more about cats and music on Catster.com:
- My 6 Favorite Cat Power Songs
- How to Make Up a Cute Song About Your Cat
- 7 Great Cat-Themed Songs You Probably Haven’t Heard
Tracy Ahrens is a veteran journalist, author, artist and mom to three rescued cats and one dog. See her web site at tracyahrens.weebly.com and add her children’s book, “Sammy Sparrow’s First Flight,” to your collection. All proceeds help 9 humane organizations.
23 thoughts on “How to Sing to Your Cats”
My darling Idun DEFINITELY likes my singing to her.
I also sing "You are my sunshine", but I also sing Volbeat – Wait a Minute My Girl (but I have changed a few of the words "Wait a minute my Mew, Wait a minute my mew mew, Summer's up and I want you to know that I wont lives a minute without you.." stupid I know, but she likes it… as well as Billie Joel – Longest Time… She really likes that one.
I also make up a lot of songs on the fly with her….
I also dance around with her, but she isnt really into that, or really into being picked up, but she will sit in my lap and give me blinkies. I love that.
We’ve just adopted a tiny little pair of siblings called Trixie and Dexter. They just arrived yesterday and are living in my bedroom for the first week. I’ve been singing to them nonstop; mostly lullabies, but they also like 50s doowop music like ‘Earth Angel’, ‘In the Still of the Night’, and ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ by The Flamingos
My cats like slow art songs like “The Water is Wide” and “Caro Mio Ben” (It’s Italian)
I accidentally discovered that cats love my singing. I have been house/pet singing for 2 years, and last year at one particular house the owners told me that one of the cats was rather timid. Anyhow, I do love to sing, and my favourite is hymns. One night I broke out into song while I was on the computer with “Trust and Obey”. Lo and behold, this shy cat jumps up to me, and I became her friend.
I thought it might have been a one-off case until this last week. I have been sitting a house where the cat is not timid, but rather standoffish. (I just let her be thinking that she will come around if she wants to.) I’ve had some choir pieces to practice (I sing soprano) and now she is all over me like a rash. She comes up to me and purrs when I sing. Now she is sleeping on the bed with me, which she hasn’t done before.
So I’ve discovered that singing is a secret weapon to win over any timid feline.
Thank you for sharing this. I think you are right about it being a “secret weapon” to win over felines.
Pingback: Owner Sings Kitten A Lullaby — Then Kitten Joins In For The Most Adorable Duet Yet
My Snorri definitely likes the high-pitched or falsetto male voices. She loves the Beach Boys, Frankie Valli, Leo Sayers, and Prince lol.
With Francis I sing little made up “jingles” or short cadences to him since he was orphaned as a baby and seems to find them comforting. One he likes is “Ba-by, Kitty Ba-by” with an up-down inflection on the word “baby”. Another one is “Little cat! Little white cat!” with a bouncy little rhythm to it on each syllable. (although he is neither little nor white anymore haha), and “Baby boy… Little baby boy…”. They only use two or at most three pitches in a soft voice, and since I’ve been singing them to him since he was a baby (eight years ago) he totally recognizes them. Otherwise, he likes hard rock music, and classical… lol.
This is great. Thank you for sharing.
Hello. Yes, I sing to our cat. However, from a voice perspective, I do not have a high singing voice or speaking voice, quite the opposite, as I have been classified as and am a bass. The songs that I have sung to our furry bundle of joy include Christmas carols, lullaby songs like You are my sunshine, songs associated with those referred to as “Crooners” (think Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr, Dean Martin, Perry Como), irish songs like Danny Boy, and really whatever else comes to mind. Although she reacts to when I get into my limited higher range, she purrs intensely at my regular lower ranges. It is neat indeed. Cats are wonderful. :)
Thank you for sharing this with us.
My Siamese cat liked Strauss waltzes and would relax if I sang the same sort of “Venusian lullaby” Jon Pertwee sang in the Doctor Who story “The Monster of Peladon.” It’s quite hypnotic, and calmed her down right away.
Mine love classical music playing when I draw – it seems to put them all in a quiet, sleepy state. Thank you for sharing.
I sing very seldom but sometimes when I am alone at home just with my cat I may sing with full voice. In that case my cat comes to me and touches
me gently with his paw like he was saying please stop. Or wondering what is the matter with you.
Yes, I think sometimes they wonder if we are “crying” out in some way – especially if they are not used to someone “singing” around them… Thank you for sharing.
They all seem to like my singing, but Majyk adores it. He will drop everything to run and sit on my chest, purring loudly and gazing into my eyes. Naturally I sing “That Old Black Majyk” and other magic themed songs. “You Are My Sunshine” works well with all their names added. “Major Tom” was named partly from the song and partly from the fact most of the local kittens looked like him. (he was quite happy to retire). “All That Jazz” to my tortie, Jazz. All my cats are talkers, but Majyk prowls around rouwling at night, so I sing a duet with him sometimes, which he seems to appreciate.
I love it. I’m not alone! Thank you for sharing.
I do sing to my kits, and they love the attention (I always include their names in my little ditties). [NOTE: My kits appreciate my “talent” – the rest of the world would cringe at the sound so I know my kits love me very much.] But their favorite is classical, especially Bach. When I want to soothe the savage beasts, I simply turn Bach on and watch my kits gravitate to their favorite snoozly spots for a relaxing nap. They will sleep for hours listening to it. Some will sit up for a while, eyes closed, swaying back and forth to the soothing sounds before finally falling down into deep slumber. The only thing they love better than that is curling up of an evening with Mom, a good book, and a cup of tea (and sometimes Bach as well). They also love to snatch tea cakes and a sip or two of Earl Gray when I am not looking but that is another story….
Yes, mine love Classical music too. I usually listen to it when I draw. I can find them all around the living room and sometimes in the tiny drawing room, sleeping. Thank you for sharing.
I do sing to my kits, and they love the attention knowing the song is just for them (I always use their name in my little ditties). [NOTE: Only my cats appreciate my “talent” – the rest of the world would cringe so I know my cats love me very much.] But their favorite is classical music, especially Bach. If I want to soothe the savage beasts, I just turn Bach on and watch them all gravitate to their favorite snoozly spots for a quiet rest. They will sleep and rest for hours listening the music. Some will sit up and sway back and forth with their eyes closed then eventually lay down to sleep. The only thing better than that for them is being curled up with Mom, a good book and a cup of tea. I read to them, and they love to listen. They also love to snatch my tea cakes and even take a sip of my Earl Gray when I am not looking but that is another story….
“Tiger Lily, She’s so silly, she’s my silly Lily girl…”
I used to have a calico long haired cat, Lexi, that loved music, but 2 songs in particular were her favorites. Nothing that I sang, but she did tolerate my singing (unlike the other cats). She used to get her daily brushing while the PBS Kids show “Big Big World” was on, and she loved the last “goodbye” song as it would calm her down (she hated to be combed). It still makes me cry when I hear it as she used to sit quietly and listen to it (I found a copy online that I played over and over on the laptop for her). She also liked the Britney Spears song “Everytime”, so I copied it on a CD to play over and over while she was in the basement and needed some calming down. She’s the only cat we’ve had that really liked music and had favorite songs. My current cat Sunny likes the theme song from “Puffin Rock” on Netflix (she likes the big images onscreen to watch, and I’ve videoed her watching them), but she’s more of a TV watching cat than a music lover.
That’s so funny. They are so unique. Thank you for sharing this.