A cat’s sense of hearing is much better than that of a human. They have evolved this way to detect even the faintest of sounds when they are out in the wild. They use this both to hunt for prey and to be wary of the presence of predators.
There are sound wavelengths that cats can hear that our human ears are not able to. Cats can hear higher pitched sounds that we can. So, it is also possible that there are sounds that do not hurt our ears that may hurt those of our feline friends.
One of the sounds that we make that cats seem to be drawn towards is a whistle. Some people are curious as to why cats make their way towards you when you whistle. Is there a significant reason for this response from cats?
Why does my cat come to me when I whistle?
Each cat will react differently to whistles. Most cats are fine with the sound, but there are others who do not like it at all. This may have something to do with what they have learned to associate with the sound.
Here are some reasons why cats respond to whistling:
1. They have been trained to do so.
Whether you have consciously or subconsciously trained your cat to come to you when you whistle, it is possible that they have been conditioned to do so. Maybe you whistle right before you feed the cat. If you do it repeatedly, the cat is going to relate your whistling to food. So, now every time you whistle, your cat comes zooming towards you.
2. The whistle sounds familiar.
The more time you spend bonding with your cat, the more it becomes aware of the little details in your voice. If you whistle while you do random things around the house, your cat is going to commit that to memory. So, the moment you whistle a tune, they will know that it is you.
3. They are inquisitive.
Cats are known to be quite curious creatures. When they hear a sound that feels a bit out of place with the sounds it has grown accustomed to, they will go looking for the source of the strange sound.
If your whistling sounds playful, they will come to play with you, but if the sound is loud and unpleasant, they may think you are in trouble or distressed.
It is also a survival instinct for cats to investigate a strange sound to see if they are or are not in any kind of danger.
4. They find the sound annoying.
Cats hear four times better than humans, so some sounds that we don’t really notice or care about may sound like nails on a chalkboard for them.
Different cats react differently to noise. Some will come close to try and understand why this noise is coming out of your mouth. Others will be quick to make you stop whistling by any means.
One way to find out if your cat hates the sound is if he is bringing his face closer to yours and meowing, as if to say “please stop what you are doing”.
Also remember that whistling loudly too close to a cat’s ears may hurt them.
5. Our whistle may sound like prey.
A cat’s shrewd sense of hearing is also adept at picking up the sounds of rodents or birds. Since the sounds of rodents and birds sound a lot like the squeak of the human whistle, your cat may have mistaken it for the sounds of potential prey.
Is whistling around cats good or bad?
It depends. Your cat may not mind the sound of whistling too much and even associates it with food or play if you train them to connect the two. But if your whistle is at a register that annoys your cat, you should probably stop doing it. It may also confuse your kitty when he thinks the sound is from a rat or mouse that he is eager to catch.
Make sure you are utilizing your whistle correctly around your feline friend. If you just got your cat, you can try to use your whistle to train them to come to you by associating the sound with food. This will come in handy, should your cat wander off too far and you want him to get back to where you are. But if the cat only seems annoyed by the sound, it is best to just quit doing it.
There are numerous reasons why your cat comes running to you when they hear your whistle. Ideally, you can train your cat using it, but that will only work if your cat does not mind the sound. Use whistling to train them to come to you for food, play time and treats.
Image: istockphoto.com / Nils Jacobi