Do Dogs and Cats Like It if You Leave the Radio or TV on When You Leave the House?

Do Dogs and Cats Like It if You Leave the Radio or TV on When You Leave the House?


A survey of about 2000 British dog owners
conducted in early 2017 found that around 40% of dog owners admitted to leaving the
radio on when they left the house so that their dog wouldn’t be lonely, while another
32% admitted that they did the same thing, just with the TV. In yet another British study, this time in
2015, it was found that 38% of those respondents left the radio on and 22% the TV. Whichever study you look at there, this practice
is shockingly common, at least in Britain. But do your pets like this? Starting with our canine counterparts, while
the research we have thus far isn’t exactly robust, it would appear that, at least in
the case of music, yes, in some cases dogs do respond to this in a positive way. For example, consider the results of research
conducted in 2002 by psychologist Deborah Wells from Queen’s University in Belfast. In a nutshell, Wells’ study involved randomly
playing music through some speakers for a group of about 50 dogs at a re-homing shelter
in the UK and noting what, if any, effect it had on the them. After a baseline reaction was found by observing
the behaviour of the dogs when no music at all was playing, researchers then played one
of three CDs- for those unfamiliar, a kind of round shiny object people used to store
music and other data on, often used for playing music in their hitched up covered wagons. Each CD contained a curated playlist limited
to a specific genre, in this case, pop, classical and heavy metal. Finally, a fourth CD contained the sounds
of a human conversation. So what were the results? The study found that classical music appeared
to have a definite calming effect on the dogs with there being a noticeable decrease in
the amount of noise and activity, and an increased number of dogs choosing to simply lay down,
compared to when there was either complete silence or the sounds of human conversation
piped into the room. On that latter point, it is interesting to
note that the human speech didn’t seem to make any difference to the dogs. Meanwhile, music by the heavy metal band Metallica
seemed to agitate the dogs present. Finally, pop music, which included the likes
of Brittney Spears, much like the sounds of human conversations, appeared to have no observable
effect on the animals. Moving on to a study in 2017 conducted at
a shelter operated by the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the
researchers attached heart monitors to the dogs to attempt to better determine the effect
the music was having on them on top of just visual observation. The results? Professor Neil Evans of the University of
Glasgow notes, “Overall, the response to different genres was mixed highlighting the possibility
that like humans, our canine friends have their own individual music preferences. That being said, reggae music and soft rock
showed the highest positive changes…” However, beyond potential personal preference,
there may actually be something else going on here that is significant in helping to
determine which types of music and sounds a given type of dog will like or not. To see why, let’s now look at cats. While the studies are limited to date, the
data so far seems to indicate that cats do not respond to music nearly as well as dogs…
at least at first glance. An important thing to remember here is that
cats’ hearing spectrum is different than a human. Further, it turns out what frequencies their
brains are more tuned to pay attention to are also in a different range. Thus, given both of these things, what they
consciously hear when they listen to our music is different than what we hear. Given this and other animal studies that have
shown animals tend to respond more to sounds within their own vocal range, researchers
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, led by psychology professor Charles Snowdon, decided
to see what would happen if they made “cat music”- essentially music that was tuned to
center in the frequency ranges and tempos cats pay most attention to. In this case, as cats’ vocal range is about
one octave higher than a human’s, they had composer Professor David Teie create music
in this range. As for tempo, they went with approximately
the average rate a cat purrs at, as well as a separate piece of cat music with a tempo
equivalent to that of a kitten suckling. And, it turns out, when playing this music
to 47 cats in the study compared to playing two different classical music pieces, the
cats did indeed react significantly more positively and pay more attention to the cat music, whereas
the human classical music garnered fewer positive responses and reactions, and even those that
did react positively to this music took approximately an additional minute to seem to notice it
at all. As for the cat music, while not every cat
responded, the ones that did tended towards a positive response in the form of purring
and sometimes even rubbing up against the speaker playing the music. This may also help explain why it takes so
much longer to train a cat to obey verbal commands, even when offering a food reward. For example, consider a study done in 1915
at the University of Colorado which seemed to show that cats were colorblind. In it, the experimenters had one jar wrapped
in gray paper, and another in color paper. If the cat touched the colored jar, they’d
get a tiny fish as a reward. 18 months and 100,000 tries later, the cats
used in the study had only been 50% successful at picking the right jar the first time. Clearly they couldn’t see color, right? Wrong. Given cats have both cones and rods, further
experiments have been done in more modern times using electrodes monitoring the cat’s
brain, definitively proving cats can see colors. So why couldn’t they figure out which jar
to pick to get the treat they wanted? While you might think just to screw with the
researchers- cats gonna’ cat- it turns out that even though they can distinguish a variety
of shades of color, their brains just aren’t really wired to pay attention to colors, though
if one spent enough time training a specific cat, you can get them to do so. It just takes an astounding amount of training
before the color registers consciously. For example, the aforementioned “fish” experiment
was re-done in the 1960s, and this time it was found that if working with an individual
cat long and consistently enough, they would learn to pay attention to the color, but it
took a whopping average of 1550 tries per cat for them to learn to pick the colored
jar. Once they did, they consistently picked it
as they did indeed want the treat inside. Going back to sounds, this may be why, as
any cat owner knows, if you call your cat using super high pitched vocalizations spoken
rapidly like “kitty-kitty-kitty-kitty” cats tend to come more quickly than if saying the
exact same thing just speaking in normal tones and speeds where they may not respond at all. Thus, while studies would need conducted to
test the hypothesis, it may be when talking about verbal commands that perhaps cats aren’t
just being dicks as they appear, but rather, you’re not speaking in tones and at tempos
their brains naturally consciously pay attention to without significant training. Whatever the case, going back to dogs, it’s
hypothesized by the researchers of the University of Wisconsin-Madison study that this may be
why different dogs respond slightly differently to different types of human music given that
different breeds of dog have different vocal frequency ranges and resting heart rates. If your curious, breeds like the Labrador
have some of the closets vocal ranges and heart rates to humans, with our music likewise
generally centered around our vocal ranges and the tempo of our heart rate. On a similar note, a 2010 study, also done
by Professor Snowdon studying cotton-top tamarin monkeys, whose heart rates are approximately
twice a typical humans and vocalizations roughly three octaves higher, likewise found that
music centered around these frequencies and tempos seemed to appeal to the tamarin monkeys,
both in its ability to agitate the monkeys and to calm them, depending on the composed
pieces of music. Further, the tamarin monkeys had no such responses
to human music played for them. Moving on to leaving a TV show on for your
pet, the hypothesis is that familiar background noises, particularly human speech, will sooth
your furry companion. However, the data on whether this actually
works or not isn’t robust enough to mention, and it is noted in the aforementioned music
study that playing sounds of human conversation appeared to have no effect on the dogs compared
to silence. Of course, if one played a recording of a
dog’s master talking, this might change the results, but no study to date we could find
has ever tested this hypothesis. That said, for anyone who has ever used a
web cam with a speaker to talk to their pets while away from home knows, the animals most
definitely respond to this speech, though whether this is enjoyable for them or a big
confusing tease is anyone’s guess. On another anecdotal note, in areas where
significant outside noises seem to stress a given dog, causing a lot of barking and
the like, many owners claim that drowning out this noise with TV, radio, or a noise
maker seems to help keep the animals more calm. As for cats and TV, there doesn’t seem to
be any real data here either. But we’re just going to go with the age-old
“Cat’s don’t care” as that seems to apply to our feline friends at least 99.99% of the
time, particularly as in this case what is being shown on TV is not typically within
the vocal ranges and tempos of speech that cats otherwise respond to anyway. Cats also, of course, don’t typically suffer
from separation anxiety to the extent that dogs often do, further perhaps making this
not matter. But to conclude, while the data to date is
limited, it does at least so far seem to be pointing to your furry forced friend enjoying
it when you leave some music on for them, though for best results you need to tailor
the music to the animals, with cats responding best to specially made cat music. And if you’re now wondering- yes, this does,
in fact, exist for sale online. This is thanks to the aforementioned composer
Professor David Teie. Since the cat study he took part in and a
subsequent Kickstarter where he raised an astounding quarter of a million dollars despite
a massively more modest initial goal, he has gone ahead and composed a cat music album
for sale online, technically making him the biggest musical star in the world to our feline
masters.

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  1. Thanks to Dashlane for supporting this show. Get 10% off with the coupon code "todayifoundout": http://www.dashlane.com/todayifoundout

  2. A cat's hearing is attuned to the high pitched frequencies associated with the screaming of tiny little animals that they are about to rip to shreds and devour.

  3. This actually explains alot about my cat. I started clicking my tongue and saying kit really high when she doesnt come over here. It's actually been working comically enough.

  4. What about studies concerning Ant Music carried out in the Early 80’s at the Blitz establishment in Soho, London??

  5. We had a dog that we had to leave the TV on, or he'd whine the entire time we were gone. After we got another dog, he wasn't loney and we didn't need to leave the TV on for him anymore.

  6. I was told cats should be given names with an S in them. It makes sense now, as S is quite a lot higher in pitch than other phonemes.

  7. Watvhijg now, but before I know the answer I’m going to say yes. My son falls asleep kid listening to classical or jazz every night and our one cat sleeps only in his room

  8. I've lived in a dog-friendly apt building for a decade. Many of my neighbors had dogs. The new or young pets often barked while owner was gone. But often would settle down when tv or radio on.
    This video explains why my cat doesn't care what music I play. But she does like to watch tv …sometimes. It's always a nature video, either animals or weirdly when I'm watching this special on natural forces, like volcanoes and lightening. But both have same element as the animal videos = movement. when she does watch the shows on volcanoes, its bright lava slowly moving on the screen. Same with storms. She sees the light and movement

  9. I obtained a copy of the cat music album and played it for my cat. She didn't care. I, however, found it oddly soothing.
    Now I'm worried…

  10. Question for you…where does smell go? Left the trash too long, fluffed one? Millions of years of life on earth but where did all the smells go?

  11. Woah!!! Chick-fil-A ad before the video… YouTube demonitizing creators left & right for community standards violations but taking money straight from a hate organization. That's fucked up. I'm sure Simon has no control over which ads play before his videos but if he did I highly doubt he'd choose Chick-fil-A.

  12. Sadly she's since passed away, but I had a cat that loved to watch TV, specifically Animal Planet. If the TV was off, she would beg for it to be turned on, and if you watched another channel for too long she would bug you until Animal Planet was on. Then she'd calmly sit upright and watch for hours from the couch. It's a good thing her humans enjoyed the channel too 🙂

  13. My current pets (3 cats, 1 dog) have so far not shown any preference for music. But, as for TV, it depends on what's on. I have a smart TV with the YouTube app, and I have a playlist of videos my cats enjoy watching. Just birds, squirrels, fish, etc. They love it. My dog is pretty neutral about TV, but occasionally something will grab his interest. My previous dog, however, LOVED watching Animal Planet, and he especially loved puppies. So, like humans, I guess it's just all up to personal preference. (EDIT: Forgot to mention… One of my cats also really likes fast-paced sci-fi movies. It's probably just due to all the motion and colors, but he will be absolutely glued to the screen like a total fanboy!)

  14. But… did the music reaction study take into consideration what music the dogs' and cats' owners preferred and played at home?
    Wouldn't be at all surprising if the pets reacted favorably when subjected to music their owners happened to like and which reminded the animals of them.

  15. If I want my cat to come I play jingle cats. The meowing cats always brings him running. But just jingle bells doesn’t.

  16. my dog has 'a song' lol its gerry rafferty's 'right down the line' the guitar riff makes her turn her head in all directions, as some dogs do, and then she gets all emotional … >_<

  17. Cats and dogs who enjoy their human's company can be soothed by routine when their humans arent there. Like playing the radio stations/music that the human plays when at time and spending time with the cat/dog. When I was a kid and gone for a while my cat would go looking for me in the house and my dad helped her settle but turning on the radio in my room and leaving the door open and she would go in there and cuddle up and sleep instead of walking around yowling for me. Poor thing. My dad remembered that my routine was to get h ok me from school and turn on the rsdio/music in my room and my cat would hang out with me and enjoyed/was comforted by our routine even though I wasn't there.

  18. My cats freaking LOVE Music For Cats. And I have to admit that I will listen to it myself when I want to calm down and mellow out. It's very soothing.

  19. I have pet rats, and they make noises far above human hearing(20-50Khz), and (from what I've read) don't seem to be able to hear/process the lowest ranges of human speech. Rats hear from 200hz up to 90Khz, and humans hear 20hz to 20Khz. At 85-180hz, men's typical frequency is below that of rat hearing, while women's 165-255hz can be heard in the higher registers but not the low ones.
    They have the same kind of improved response rate as cats to higher, faster noises, though humans aren't capable of making noises as fast as their heartrate, which is 330-480bpm.

    Which is to say, it's not only recommended to speak to your pet rats in high pitched 'baby talk' voices, it's basically required 😉

  20. my dog watches tv
    she likes anything with cats or rodents in them

    her favorite is tom and jerry cartoons and ceasar milan.

    I let her watch because she likes it.

  21. Cats watch TV. My sister's cat would even charge the screen when she shut it off trying to find out what happened to the picture.

  22. Guess I've been doing my cat calls right. In falsetto. Tongue clicking also works at times. They certainly do NOT respond to their names.

  23. that's really cool, i need to get that cat music album! i wanna see how my cat reacts to it. i wonder if you need a really good sound system, or if phone / stock tv speakers could reach the frequency range that cats prefer.

  24. A friend's cat loves to watch telly, especially sports, because he's fascinated by the movements onscreen. It's quite comical to watch him follow the balls with rapt attention! Thankfully he's never knocked the screen over. Yet. 😹

  25. Why does it seem that researchers studying cats, seem to know NOTHING about cats?! Any cat lover has always known this "cats don't see colors" thing is massive bs. Just ask any of us how well our fur babies choose the best accent color for (aka: opposite color from) their fur when preparing to lie upon our furniture and garments! Trust me, they see color just fine.

  26. "Round shiny object used for playing music when hitching up their covered wagons!" Yeah…and back when we first invented the wheel we used this weird plastic thing you couldn't rewind called an 8-track.

  27. My grandads cat used to watch animal planet their favourite was meerkat Manor but thinking about it meerkats are a higher pitch so maybe that's all it was but we'd come back to find them all fixated on the TV

  28. Interesting video. Would have been nice to hear a sample of the cat music or have a link to the Kickstarter in the description, but oh well.

  29. Im no psychologist, but as far as i remember i have read that people also tend to leave the TV/radio to fall asleep very often. I assume this phenomenon is linked to the distraction of attention animals need to have for predators or other dangers. If there is constant noise, little is nothing to hear out of the pool of potentially dangerous signs. I think i have also read that some companies use white noise to calm the workers in offices.

  30. I Skype my mother and the dog every week. When Skype makes a ringing sound, he get very excited and get up on the chair to hear me. He also seems to fall asleep every afternoon with radio 4's afternoon play!!!

  31. I just leave the remote control in place where my dog can reach it and I let her decide what she wants to watch and listen to, it is a win win.

  32. We had a cat that watch tv. She love football and basketball. Whenever the ball was thrown she would snack at the tv…. she was so cute doing it

  33. Cat training is easy. Only takes a few days until their human dies whatever they want.
    So guess leaving the music on isn't that useful for cats. I was wondering because my melody has been alone while I'm at work, for 4 weeks since my other cat died.
    Cats respond when you call them. They turn around look if you have something interesting to offer, of not they do what they want

  34. One of my cats really hates the subwoofer in my surround sound system. She probably thinks there's a giant cat inside there purring or something.
    My other cat, strangely, doesn't give two f*cks about it, and sometimes goes and lies down beside it. Maybe she also thinks there's a giant cat inside there, purring.

  35. Oddly enough I used to have a cat (R.I.P. Mr.Haven) who used to curl up close to the speaker if I was listening to Johnny Cash and 2 cats now who do the same if I'm listening to Nightwish

  36. My friend had a cat that would lie on top of the speaker every time we listened to Drum and Bass. My theory is that the drums sound like mice skittering around.

  37. So if they were circling the wagons back in the time CD's were popular what were they doing when cassette tapes and/or 8 tracks were popular

  38. Cool video. Have a suggestion for another: why do we forget the endings of stories and films/tv episodes more readily than how they start?

  39. I wonder, do cats hear other cats purring, or do they just feel the vibrations when they are nearby? Purring is a pretty low frequency and the video states they hear mostly in a range higher than human speaking.

  40. As far as TV goes for cats, my girlfriends cat runs up and sits looking straight into the tv as soon as we turn it on. However she’s got a very very low pitched meow. Sounds like she’s been smoking her whole life or something so maybe that’s got something to do with responding to tv and people’s voices. 🤷‍♂️

  41. I am not too sure. We cant watch Family Feud anymore cause our hound dog barks and goes nuts at every correct answer.

  42. This and as usual scientific research is just pointless. The reason is that they are looking for something they don't need to, to leave a TV or radio on for your dog/s (most if not all cats really don't care) is so they are not in complete silence, not to stop them getting lonely or relax them as such.

    Try it yourself sit in a room in complete silence and see how long it takes for you to get bored and frustrated, for your senses to heighten and hear every noise from outside or the neighbours, for dogs it's worse. For some dogs (definitely mine), it will make them wonder/think you or someone is coming home and that can cause stress, especially in dogs that suffer from any amount of separation anxiety, some dogs will just sleep mostly, but why not at least have a radio on just out of kindness.

  43. One of my dogs has such anxiety when left alone without another dog that we got a Yorkie puppy last year since our other dog is really old and not likely to be around for more than another year (she's already past the expectancy for her breed). Yes, a small-breed puppy actually matters here. The dog who can't be alone is a very small dog dealing with trauma from a former home, and big dogs coming into our house scare the hell out of her (the old dog is big but was here first), and adult dogs she doesn't know coming in scare her. So we literally got a small breed puppy for our small dog. When Old Big Dog isn't here, she's fine as long as Yorkie-Wookie (she looks like a Wookie) is here.

  44. Is there a correlation between a dog's "preferred" genre of music and the genre that their owner generally enjoys? Like if you listen to a type of music will your dog start to respond similarly to that certain style?

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