Cats have excellent hearing. Felines use their ears to hunt and remain alert to potential threats. Loud noises will spark a fear response in a cat, so exposure to sound needs to be minimized.
Cats prefer quiet because it enables them to relax/sleep. Prolonged exposure to noise above 95 decibels can cause hearing damage. A short, sharp noise of 120 decibels can put your cat at risk hearing damage.
Exposure to noise must be managed carefully in cats. As Physiology & Behavior explains, excessive noise raises a cat’s blood pressure. This is because the cat is living in a heightened state of stress.
- 1 Are Cats Sensitive to Noise?
- 2 How Loud is Too Loud for Cats?
- 3 Do Cats Prefer Quiet?
- 4 Can Cats Sleep Through Noise?
- 5 Sounds That Make Cats Happy
- 6 What Noises Do Not Cats Like?
- 7 Do Cats Like Music?
- 8 Do Cats Like White Noise?
Are Cats Sensitive to Noise?
Cats have excellent hearing. This can make felines extremely sensitive to noise. How sensitive will depend on the cat’s individual personality and upbringing. Some cats are more nervous than others. If you have an anxious cat, she will likely be frightened by any sudden noise.
If adopting a cat, ask questions about her previous home. Did the cat live in a quiet home, in a peaceful town? If so, living with young children in a loud city will be a shock. It’ll take to adjust.
How Loud is Too Loud for Cats?
The table below defines the average decibel level of different sounds:
|Typical Human Conversation||60 decibels|
|Car Engine||70 decibels|
|Average TV or Radio||75 decibels|
|Vacuum Cleaner||80 decibels|
|Shouted Human Conversation||90 decibels|
|Average Music Stereo||95 decibels|
|Car Horn||110 decibels|
|Loud Power Tools||110 decibels|
|Emergency Services Siren||120 decibels|
To manage the risk of permanent damage to your cat’s hearing:
- Keep your cat indoors and soundproof the home.
- Use headphones when watching television or listening to music at loud volumes.
- Minimize exposure to vacuums and similar appliances.
- Always ensure that your cat has a quiet space to escape to.
Check your cat’s hearing at least once a year. A vet will offer service during an annual check-up. Follow professional advice at the sign of hearing loss and make lifestyle adjustments.
Do Cats Prefer Quiet?
Given a choice, cats will always choose a quiet location. There are three reasons for this:
- Cats hunt by sound, which is easier in silence.
- Cats cannot be ambushed when they can hear everything.
- Cats sleep better without noisy distractions.
Despite this, tiptoeing around and making as little noise as possible is not advisable. Cats like routine and structure. The quieter the environment, the likelier a nervous reaction to any sound becomes.
Can Cats Sleep Through Noise?
Cats doze in a noisy environment, but this is not their main sleep. Most cats catch up on deep sleep during the day, when a house is empty.
When a cat dozes, she is not actively asleep. You may be aware that cats have a third eyelid. This helps a feline doze, while remaining aware of her surroundings. The same applies to her hearing.
A cat in a noisy environment is still alert. She leaves one ear open, listening for potential danger. In this situation, a cat will block out familiar sounds. She won’t be concerned by the dishwasher, human conversation, or television. In the event of a loud noise, she’ll leap to attention.
To help your cat, ensure she has at least one private space. This gives her somewhere to escape to when overstimulated. A cat needs a quiet place to sleep at least once a day.
Sounds That Make Cats Happy
There are some noises that cats actively enjoy. These include:
- Shaking and rattling
- Clicking and scratching
- Other cats
- Opening and closing doors
- An owner’s voice
The sound of a door opening or closing will pique a cat’s interest. They will wonder if a favorite person has returned. Speak to your cat. Felines differentiate humans by voice, not sight.
Cats will also be intrigued by other felines. Cats speak a common language. Even if the two animals do not get along, they’ll look to cross paths. They will not exchange meows. This communication is reserved for humans. Body language tells the cats all they need to know.
Why Do Cats Like Shaking and Rattling Noises?
Cats associate these sounds with dinner time. A cat will notice the three-step process of dinner.
- The shaking of a bag of kibble
- The pouring of kibble into a bow
- The placing of the bowl on the ground
The same may apply to an electric tin opener. If your pet understands this sound, she’ll become excited by it. Shaking a bag of treats is also a great way to gain a cat’s attention.
Why Do Cats Like Clicking and Scratching Noises?
There are two possible explanations. The first is that the cat underwent clicker training. Your pet may associate clicking sounds with a treat.
It’s more likely that these sounds stimulate a cat’s hunting instincts. An excited cat will click her tongue. You will hear this when a cat watches birds through a window. This sound is a precursor to pouncing upon prey.
If a cat hears a clicking sound, she will suspect that prey is nearby. Scratching will garner a similar response. Cats use their excellent hearing to locate prey. The scratching sound of a scampering mouse is exciting to a cat.
What Noises Do Not Cats Like?
Four forms of sound provoke fear and anxiety in cats:
- Loud, sudden noises
- Loud, droning noises
- Danger sounds of any volume
- High-pitched, tinny sounds
You may not be able to control exposure to all of these noises. Some can be managed, though.
Cats Hate Loud Noises
Loud noises are the biggest problem for cats. In addition to being frightening, loud noises can cause hearing damage. These sounds fall into two categories – short, sharp shocks, and prolonged droning. Examples of short, loud noises could include:
- Backfiring cars
- Motorcycles revving
- Car horns
- Slammed doors
- Televised explosions
Most cats jump and flee to safety upon hearing these sounds. Unfortunately, such noise is sometimes unavoidable. July 4th, for example, will bring fireworks. In such instances, ensure your cat has a safe space. A clear path to a quiet, private room will help a cat recover.
Prolonged loud noises are just as dangerous. Examples of these include:
- Power tools
- Building work outside the house
- Loud conversation
If building work is taking place near your property, temporarily re-home your cat. Drills and power tools will cause her stress. She risks permanent hearing loss and potential heart problems.
A general loud environment can be harder to manage. Living close to a kindergarten, for example, will no doubt be noisy. Your cat will eventually adjust to this background noise. Make her as comfortable as possible until this happens.
Vacuuming is the biggest issue many cat owners face. Felines hate the vacuum. It’s loud, it never seems to stop, and it invades their territory. Exposure therapy is essential. Your cat will eventually learn to co-exist with the vacuum. Always provide an escape route, though.
Cats Hate High Pitched Sounds
There are some noises that only cats can hear. These will most often be high-pitched sounds. A cat’s hearing range for low, deep sounds is comparable to a human. Higher sounds are a feline specialty.
The peak of human hearing is typically 20,000 hertz. Even then, most humans older than 20 cannot hear such high pitches. Cats can hear sounds as high as 64,000 hertz. Felines use this to their advantage when hunting. A cat can locate prey from up to 50 meters away.
This is why cats stare at walls. A feline can hear rodents or insects within. Your pet is preparing a hunting strategy. Cats can also hear ultrasonic devices, such as a car remote. Even an LED lightbulb may emit sounds that your cat can hear. This will become irritating.
Just like humans, cat hearing deteriorates with age. While she is young though, hearing is arguably a cat’s sharpest sense.
Cat Danger Sounds
Cats live in a state of constant awareness. At the suggestion of danger, most cats will flee. The sound most associated with feline danger is hissing.
If a cat is afraid, she will hiss. This makes cats panic if they hear hissing. They assume a nearby cat is in danger. Hissing sparks similar reactions to a human hearing a scream for help from outside.
Many noises seem inoffensive to humans, but sound like hissing to a cat. These include:
- Scrunching a plastic bag
- Spraying an aerosol can
- Boiling a kettle
- Repressuring a boiler
Your cat may hiss back when she hears these sounds. She may decide to assert dominance over her territory. Panicking and fleeing are more likely, though. Do not stand in your cat’s way in such instances. Wait for her to calm down before approaching.
Do Cats Like Music?
Cat owners often find that music attracts their pets. Classical music, in particular, is believed to appeal to felines.
This is not the case. Cats enjoy music, but only when it’s designed exclusively for them. A study in Applied Animal Behavior Science explains this in more detail.
The study created music that will appeal exclusively to cats. In human music, a drumbeat is essential. This is what attracts us, regardless of whether we acknowledge this. A drumbeat will mimic a human heartbeat.
Scientists put this theory into practice while creating cat-specific music. The tempo and metronomes were designed to appeal to feline senses. Also, purring and feeding sound effects were applied.
The results were surprising. The cats rubbed themselves against the speakers. This was an attempt at ‘claiming’ the music as their own.
If you wish to purchase this music for your cat, search the name David Teie. This composer has recorded numerous collections of cat-friendly music. Most of Mr. Teie’s compositions are designed to relax cats and help them sleep.
My Cat Likes ‘Human’ Music
Although studies suggest that cats are indifferent to human music, this may not seem the case. Your cat may respond to human music.
This is not necessarily because the cat enjoys the music. There are several explanations:
- The cat heard a sudden noise and came to investigate.
- The cat knows that you play music in the kitchen. She associates music with food.
- The cat has heard you listen to the same song time and again. As cats love routine, this is comforting.
A Pavlovian response is the likeliest explanation for a cat reacting to human music. Your pet heard the music before and associates it with pleasure.
Do not mistake this for liking the song itself. Playing human music at high volume will upset your cat. To utilize music in cat care, purchase feline-specific recordings.
Do Cats Like White Noise?
Some cats draw comfort from white noise because they like routine. An electrical appliance that steadily releases white noise will be comforting for a cat. It can block out unwelcome sounds.
If you have an anxious cat or noisy house, consider investing in a white noise machine. These small electrical appliances release a consistent sound. Alternatively, play a free YouTube video through your tablet or smartphone.