All of us know that animals respond to music (my cats Roger and Chloe love to hang with me when I mix), but are there certain genres that they like better? A new study by the University of Glasgow in conjunction with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found out that shelter dogs definitely had some music preferences. The dogs wore heart rate monitors and their cortisol levels (known as the “stress hormone”) were checked in order to find out how relaxed or agitated they were when different types of music was played.
The first thing that the study found is that shelter dogs in general have lower levels of stress when music is played. This is important because dogs find shelters very uncomfortable and are likely to react in ways that make them less likely to be adopted. Thankfully, music seems to relax them a bit.
Ah, but what kind of music? It turns out that the dogs responded more to soft rock and reggae than any other. Believe it or not, Motown got the most paws down, and heavy metal actually induced body shaking. Audio books, oddly enough, were also something that the pooches liked.
The tests were so successful that the Scottish SPCA decided to pump music into its shelters permanently.
The university is now conducting similar studies on cats, but the kitties aren’t being as cooperative as the pooches (no surprise there, as cat lovers know). Cats are averse to wearing heart monitors, so only the cortisol levels are being measured. There have been studies before, and music made especially for felines (like this recent album) created as a result, but in my experience the kitties seem to like music that’s soft and rhythmic, and aren’t too happy with anything loud and aggressive. Just like many humans, I’ve found.