Study: Purring and Eating Sounds Don’t Relieve Stress in Cats

Caitlin Dempsey


A black cat sitting in front a wall that is dark yellow.

Going to the vet, moving, introducing changes are all things that stress out cats. There has been some studies that have looked at the effect of music on alleviating stress in cats, particularly those in a shelter environment. This has led to the development of cat-specific classical music that embeds cats purring into the melodies.

Researchers recently looked at whether or not listening to familiar cat sounds on their own can help with stress management among felines. This study tested how certain cat sounds affected stress in cats when they are in a strange environment.

A black cat sitting in front a wall that is dark yellow.
Listening to the sound of cats purring and eating doesn’t reduce stress in cats. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Over 28 days, 20 cats listened to four different sounds: silence, purring, the sound of cats eating, and a mix of purring and eating sounds. Each week, the cats were placed into an unfamiliar environment. While the sounds were playing, the cats’ reactions were monitored for ten minutes. Each week, the cats would be exposed to one of the four sound types. After four weeks, each cat in the study had listened to each of the four sound types.

The results? The researchers found that none of the four sounds types reduced stress in the cats. Only the mix of purring and eating sounds made the cats look around less, but it didn’t make a big difference in reducing their stress at being in an unfamiliar place.

The study:

Bian, Z., Fan, Z., Xiao, T., Yan, J., Ren, R., Xu, S., … & Zhang, L. (2023). Effects of species-relevant auditory stimuli on stress in cats exposed to novel environment. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 1-10.

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey holds both a master's in Geography from UCLA and a Master of Library and Information Science. She is the editor of and an avid researcher of geography and feline topics. A lifelong cat owner, Caitlin currently has three rescued cats: an orange tabby, a gray tabby, and a black cat.