From practically the beginning, critics gushed over Eartha Kitt with every feline term imaginable: her voice “purred” or was “like catnip”, she was a “sex kitten” who “slinked” or was “on the prowl” across the stage, sometimes “flashing her claws”, and her career was often said to have had “nine lives”.
Appropriately, she was tapped to play Catwoman in the 1960s TV series Batman, bringing feral, compact energy to the role (left, click to enlarge).
Throughout her six-decade career Kitt remained a fixture on the cabaret circuit, maintaining her voice and figure through a vigorous fitness regimen. Even after learning that she had cancer, she triumphantly opened the newly renovated Café Carlyle in September 2007; The New York times reviewer wrote that Ms. Kitt’s voice was “in full growl”.
This according to “Eartha Kitt, a seducer of audiences, dies at 81” by Rob Hoerburger (The New York times CLVIII/54,536 [26 December 2008] p. 37).
Today would have been Kitt’s 90th birthday! Below, in one of her signature songs, purring in French (one of the seven languages that she sang in).
As we reported a few years ago, David Teie has composed music for cats. Now he has published, along with two colleagues, a report on a scientific study demonstrating this music’s efficacy.
They presented two examples of Teie’s cat music in counter-balanced order with two examples of human music and evaluated the behavior and response latencies of cats to each piece.
The cats showed a significant preference for and interest in species-appropriate music compared with human music (Median (IQR) 1.5 (0.5-2.0) acts for cat music, 0.25 (0.0-0.5) acts for human music, <P><0.002) and responded with significantly shorter latencies (Median (IQR) 110.0 (54-138.75) s for cat music, 171.75 (151-180) s for human music (<P>< 0.001). Younger and older cats were more responsive to cat music than middle-aged acts (cubic trend, <r>2 = 0.477, <P>< 0.001).
This according to “Cats prefer species-appropriate music” by Teie, Charles T. Snowdon, and Megan Savage (Applied animal behavior science 20 February 2015).
Below, Samantha demonstrates with Cozmo’s air.
Musicforcats.com presents music by David Teie that is based on feline vocal communication and environmental sounds that pique the interest of cats, written in a musical language that is uniquely designed to appeal to the domestic cat.
The pieces are composed in three different styles; each style is designed to convey and evoke a particular mood.
- Kitty ditties: Playful and quick, these incorporate stylizations of some of the animal calls that are of great interest to cats. A little like sonic catnip, ditties are meant to arouse interest and curiosity.
- Feline airs: The purr is to cats what the moan is to humans; it can express pleasure or pain, but most importantly, it draws sympathetic emotions from the listener. The timing and cyclic rhythms of purrs are remarkably consistent among all breeds of domestic cats, and the feline air is based on the pulses of the purr.
- Cat ballads: Just as the pedal drum provides the heartbeat in human music, the swish, swish of these ballads provides the sound of suckling in feline music.
Related article: Music for cats. II