Do Animals Like Music?

There’s been a lot of debate over whether animals like music or not. Some people say that animals react to music in a similar way that humans do, while others believe that animals don’t really understand the concept of music. So, what’s the truth?

The answer is… it depends. Different animals seem to enjoy different types of music. 

Birds are probably one of the most widely known animal species that seem to love music; studies have shown that birdsongs are often similar to music made by humans. Ravens, for example, have been known to mimic human speech and even songs from other animals. This type of behavior is often referred to as “song mimicry”, and it’s something that is seen in a lot of different bird species.

It’s not just birds that seem to enjoy music, though. Dolphins are another well-known species that are often associated with music, particularly because dolphins love to swim in groups near boats where there is typically music playing. Some people even say that the dolphin’s interest in music makes them “dance” in the water. Of course, there isn’t any scientific data to back up this claim, but it’s still an interesting idea.

One of the most surprising animals that seem to love music is the octopus. Scientists recently discovered that the octopus has a muscle in its arm that it can use to control its movement in the water, and it often uses this muscle to create patterns when it’s around other octopuses. In one particular study, scientists observed an octopus that was mimicking the sounds of music that was being played near it.

It’s really hard to tell whether animals like music the way humans do but here are studies that may tell us just how animals like music too. 

Classical music relaxes dogs 

Dogs have been shown to enjoy music, with research indicating that they can distinguish between different styles and rhythms. One study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior suggests that playing classical music may help alleviate some of the stress that dogs tend to experience when housed in kennels.

The study found that dogs were more likely to lie down when classical music was played and spend less time barking. Playing heavy metal music, on the other hand, appears to cause the dogs to become more nervous and stressed, leading to increased trembling. 

What about playing classical music to your dog? You might want to try it the next time your dog is in a stressful situation like when left alone at home or when loud noises are heard outside the house. 

Slow music increases cows’ milk production 

A 2001 research shows how music affects dairy milk production in cows. Researchers at the University of Leicester School of Psychology have found that cows produce more milk when listening to “Everybody Hurts” by REM or “Pastoral Symphony” by Beethoven as compared to Beatles’ “Back In The USSR” or Wonderstuff’s “Size of a Cow.”

It was observed that slow music alleviated stress and relaxed the animals, resulting in higher milk production, a three percent increase or 0.73 liters more per cow.

Cows seem to have a music preference after all and it is interesting to know how it greatly affects how much milk they can produce too. 

Cats like music composed specifically for them

For our furry feline friends, cats seem to like music too but there is a catch: they prefer music composed just for them. In a study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science Journal, the researchers composed species-appropriate music for domestic cats and tested its effects compared to music composed for humans. 

Results show that cats enjoy and prefer music specifically composed for them as opposed to music for humans. With about 2 octaves higher than human music, cat-specific music tends to affect the cats’ behaviors, causing them to turn their head toward the direction of the speaker, move towards it, sniff or rub against it and make purr sounds while the cat music is on. 

You can try and look for music composed for cats online or on YouTube and see for yourself how your cats like it or not. 

Bird and human brains have the same response to music

Bird chirps and sounds are definitely music to our ears but do these birds actually like music too? Researchers Sarah E. Earp and Donna L. Maney from Emory University published a study that looked at the brain activity of male and female white-tailed sparrows as they listened to male birdsong. 

According to the study, they found that when female birds in the breeding state listen to male birdsong, a reward system is activated in their brains which is the same neural reward system that is also triggered in humans when they listen to music they enjoy.

Though we cannot be truly sure whether music’s effect is positive to these birds since we do not share the same regions where music response occurs due to our different brain structures, it is evident that music triggers something in a bird’s brain and they are responsive of the music they hear.

Music leads to lower heart rate for baboons 

With the different primates being our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, it is interesting to know whether we share the same appreciation for music. One study measured the behavioral and physiological responses of four singly caged baboons to radio music. 

Using a tether system to measure the baboon’s heart rate and blood pressure,  researchers found that the heart rate was significantly lower when the radio was on. This goes to show that music can have a calming effect that can lead to better well-being.

We truly have a lot of similarities with our close animal relatives like the baboons and music is no exception. 


It seems that animals like music just as much as humans do! From cows producing more milk to cats preferring music composed specifically for them, it is clear that animals enjoy listening to different types of music. Even birds and primates have the same response to music as humans do, indicating that animals truly appreciate the beauty of music. 

So the next time you are around animals, why not put on a little music and see how they react? You may be surprised!