Cool for Cats – Cat Ballads, the album
RSPCA New South Wales have teamed up with scientists to develop music just for cats, based on recent research into cat palettes, images and soundscapes to calm and improve their psychology. Tom Spooner reviews the resultant album of cat ballads:
So, cat music, it’s a thing. Scientifically engineered feline-friendly music actually exists.
It’s worth pointing out at this point that I am neither a cat nor a dog person. Born into this world as a living, wheezing A-Z of allergies, I had to avoid fur like the proverbial plague. A cat was out of the question. I was left instead to share my childhood secrets with a stick insect. Entirely free of allergens, my companion – Bobby – was also entirely devoid of personality or anything in fact that distinguished him from an actual stick. I share this personal detail only as a means to establish my impartiality when it comes to assessing any art form in relation to cats. I also realise that it highlights how unqualified I am to pass judgement on whether this cat music is purely a marketing stunt, a worthy one at that, or something that might actually work.
To say I have had no contact with cats would be a lie. As an adult, my wheezes, itches, and swollen lumps and bumps, are no-longer life threatening. I am free to encounter furry friends at will. Having said that, my contact with cats remains limited. Occasionally, I encounter a wayward moggy as I walk the city. I tend to click my tongue at them and rasp encouragingly in the hope they will allow me to stroke them.
On a more frequent basis, I get to hang out with Mimi. Mimi is a cat that likes nothing more than offering me extended views of her puckered bottom-button before sitting very deliberately in the middle of whatever board game or meal I am trying to enjoy at the time.
There you have it, full disclosure; a potted history of me and cats.
Anyway, the music.
The key track in this project from RSPCA NSW is I Need You – a song and accompanying video that has been specially developed by actual scientists to calm and improve the psychology of cats. The basis for both are also rooted in actual research into things like cat colour palettes, frequency ranges and species-specific communication.
But, what does it sound like?
I Need You kicks off with a deep purring, not dissimilar to the motorbike that rips through the heart of Shangri-Las Leader of the Pack. Encouraging. Next, some 90s rave synths swell up, all seductive and optimistic – could this be the dream hybrid of Spector-produced girl group and N-Trance I’ve been waiting for?
The answer is, of course, an emphatic no. It all goes very wrong, very quickly – at least to these human ears of mine. The synthesised strings morph into the kind of New Age Celine Dion cover album that Alan Titchmarsh listens to while practicing tantric wanks in the wisteria at the back of his garden. The chirruping of birds feels much like the animal kingdom equivalent of getting Stormzy to rap on your trite pop hit in a bid for crossover cred. Then, the vocals come in, deliciously garbled and as unintelligible as my words to Mimi when I ask her to kindly release the Scrabble tiles from beneath her furry arse cheeks. Before the track ends, there’s time for a sax solo too, just like on Baker Street, and some more sonic nonsense that is how I imagine the next Coldplay album to sound.
Alongside, I Need You, there is a mini-album of music made for humans and not cats. It’s a collection of tongue-in-cheek pastiches that do their best to bring into focus the very real issues facing cats in New South Wales and across the world.
Desex Me Before I Do Something Crazy finds Loudon Wainwright III and Sixto Rodriquez riffing on neutering; Get Me Registered is a brooding slice of faux-Americana on the virtues of microchipping whereas Meow Meow is a big ballad à la Adele or Miley Cyrus, that could just as plausibly have been taken from the latter’s brilliantly bonkers Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.
We get lines like: “I’ll prove I’m a pussy with this little song” and “I poo in a box and you named me Brian”. It’s a bit schoolboy admittedly, but let’s hope it connects with the YouTubers and Vloggers, and tickles the older folk enough so that they share it around Facebook.
I’ll give the final thought over to Mimi, who I got to check out the special video for I Need You. Personally, I wasn’t sure about it – it looks like an ad for a cat version of Dignitas, filmed for VR. It also inexplicably to me features a tin of poop and a cat spinning in a microwave. How did Mimi react? Well, she flashed me her bumhole before sitting very purposefully on my phone as it continued to play. Draw your own conclusions.
You/your cat can listen to the full album here.
Words by Tom Spooner.
Did you know…
· Three in four cats are categorised as homeless – in Australia this would be equivalent to 18 million homeless people.
· Australians love their cats, but more than 35,000 still end up in shelters, pounds and rescue groups every year in NSW alone.
· Identification rates are so low in cats, only 3% end up making their way home – as opposed to around 50% of dogs, signaling a value discrepancy between the two species.
· Meanwhile, a pair of undesexed cats can lead to 20,000 offspring in just two years, many of which will end up in pounds and shelters.
· Kitten season will see RSPCA NSW alone take in up to 500 kittens and cats a week over the warmer months.
· The current mortality rate for unvaccinated kittens infected with Feline Panleukopenia (FPL) can be as high as 95%.
All RSPCA NSW shelters and care centres are offering $10 microchipping for the month of September. Book by calling your nearest location here.