In this month’s Birds Eye View Linette discusses audiophiles and their cats. Yep…cats! We fully expect this to break the internet! TQBIRDSSPONSOR

What is it about audiophiles and cats? They just seem to get on, many of my fellow audiophiles say that they like nothing better than sitting back with a glass of wine or whisky or a cup of tea, with a warm cat on their lap, relaxing and enjoying their favourite album. One friend, who makes very nice hifi and has a penchant for reel 2 reel tape machines, told us recently that he has four cats who all just turned up on his doorstep and stayed ‘because I’m a nice guy’.  The cats obviously knew he was an audiophile. This seemed an appropriate article to write this month as Hifi Pig Towers has been somewhat overrun with cats, all be it three of them very small kittens.  Our resident beast, Clio, has been joined by Monty, Squeak and Ali, the products of a feral mother who deposited them in an out-building and took off once they were around six weeks old. Monty and Squeak have since found a new home so things are settling down a bit, but for a while the only thing that would calm the three savage wee beasties was to play them music, just about any music. So this kind of throws up the questions, do cats actually enjoy music? Do they have musical preferences? Could there be such a thing as a true Audiophile Cat?birds_eye_view_NEW

If you have a cat or cats yourself then I am sure you will have noticed how they react when you put on different types of music. Maybe your cats shares all of your musical tastes, or maybe they disappear the minute the system gets switched on.  Many audiophiles are Jazz fans so it follows that maybe their cats are too, indeed our Clio loves the dulcet tones of Lyn Stanley, but then she’s a sophisticated lady just like Lyn. She settles down and relaxes, positioning herself in the sweet spot when we play soothing music with a strong female vocal.

Clio The Jazz Cat Appreciating a bit of Lyn Stanley

Clio The Jazz Cat Appreciating a bit of Lyn Stanley

The opposite type of Jazz Cat would be a jumpy, skittish Ornette Coleman fan, but more ‘challenging’ Jazz can be a bit too much for some of our feline friends.  The opening riff to Deep Purples ‘Smoke On Whe Water’ from their acclaimed ‘Live in Japan’ album has our Jazz Cat running for the hills, but perhaps your cat is much more of a Classic Rock Cat than ours?

Rumbling bass and searing guitars keep Classic Rock Cat purring happily. The little kittens in residence at Hifi Pig Towers are a lively type of cat.  They spend most of their time racing every which way they can, round and round the room and up and down the bass traps, we even suggested to GIK Acoustics that there was a whole new untapped market out there for them, combining room treatment and cat furniture for audiophiles and their cats to enjoy together. They are definitely Techno Kitties, racing around like frantic ”Crasher Kids’, only to be soothed by repetitive Techno beats. When they grow up I imagine they will become Housecats, just like Felix.

Classical Cat has refined tastes and will sit for hours with their audiophile human enjoying some fine symphony or opera.  Or you may have a real yee’haw Country Kitty who loves the sounds of Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline.  Whatever your musical taste, I am sure that you can tell if your cat is enjoying listening as much as you are, they just seem happy and relaxed or perhaps stare intently at the speakers.

There has recently been some research that suggests that cats don’t actually like ‘human’ music, rather they much prefer specially created cat music. Studies carried out in 2015 by the University of Wisconsin led them to conclude that music needs to be ‘species specific’ and be in the frequency range and with similar tempos that the species uses naturally in communication. The researchers worked with musician David Teie who believes that animals have an intuitive biological response to sounds that they heard in their early development. Teie had developed ‘Music for Cats’ which to me, sounds like some kind of purring, chirping, ambient chill-out music, but the University’s testing found that it was preferred by cats when compared with their response to ‘human’ music. They also found that there was a more significant response in younger and older cats, than in middle aged cats.

Some cats are obviously into the hifi its self, just like their audiophile human, and they appoint themselves various important audiophile roles. The Amplifier Toaster Cat isn’t sitting on your big, class A amp just to keep warm, he’s making sure that everything is in order for your listening session. Turntable cat has an equally important role, he’s making sure that you got that ultra expensive cartridge aligned juuuuust right. The Room Treatment Crew are doing you loads of favours by checking to see if they can pull down your carefully placed acoustic panels, see you need to put them up again, properly this time!  As for the Cable Testers, if they can bite through your cables then perhaps you need to consider an upgrade, they are only pointing out what you knew all along. If you have a penchant for electrostatic speakers though you may be better off without a cat, Electrostat Climbing Cat is not a popular creature.

But joking aside, perhaps the reason that cats seem drawn to audiophiles is because, when we listen to music, it calms and relaxes us, it is therapeutic and de-stressing.  When we are calm and relaxed, so is our cat, so enjoying listening to music together is just another way of bonding with your pet, whether you are listening to your favourite tunes or something more cat specific.

Linette Smith

Read more Bird’s Eye Views with Linette Smith here.

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