Help me preserve my cat's hearing.
July 11, 2012 10:38 AM   Subscribe

I just bought this white noise machine and it's amazing. But will the sound hurt my cat's ears?

The man who occasionally sleeps in my bed does not seem bothered, but I wondered about my other bed companion. Is the tone etc. such that it would bother cats? You can sample the sound on the site. Thanks!
posted by analog to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When you play the sound, how does your cat react?
posted by phunniemee at 10:50 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have the same model. My cat (who incidentally looks a lot like your Cecil) used to sleep right next to it, even though she had a million other places to nap. I never got the impression that it bothered her (and she will clearly let me know when she doesn't like certain tones and sounds).
posted by lucysparrow at 10:57 AM on July 11, 2012

When we used to use a white noise machine (which sounds like this if Dohm is what I should select from that menu) and when we used to have our window air conditioner in our bedroom, one of our cats stopped sleeping with us. I'm not sure I'd say it 'hurt' her ears (and our vet said it probably didn't); she just plain didn't like it.

Now that we have AC units in different parts of the house, she's more prone to avoid those rooms instead. My vet said it wasn't pain and was probably more princess behavior, to which she is very prone. (This was proven when it was 100+ here for a few days in a row and suddenly Little Miss Longhair couldn't get enough of the noisy AC.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:04 AM on July 11, 2012

No, it won't hurt your cat's ears.
posted by Aquaman at 11:09 AM on July 11, 2012

This is a really good question, but other than testimonials like lucysparrow's and MCMikeNamara's, answers are hard to come by because, compared to people, cats can hear
much higher-pitched sounds, up to 64 kHz, which is 1.6 octaves above the range of a human, and even 1 octave above the range of a dog.[8]
I think it would be an excellent marketing strategy for the makers of white noise machines to measure the amount of sound they put out in the 20-64 kHz range, which which would be easy, and reduce it (as well as smooth it out), which might be pretty hard depending on the mechanism of generation, and then advertise that to cat lovers.

You might write to the Dohm-NSF people and ask them what the 20-64kHz spectrum of their machine is, and you could argue that even if they didn't think their potential customers would be very likely to choose one machine over another based on how the customer's cat liked it, they should still care about that because a restless, irritated cat might disturb the sleep of that customer, thereby reducing customer satisfaction with their product.
posted by jamjam at 12:23 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

As is usually the case with cats, it can be hard to predict their behaviour or figure out exactly what has ruffled their feathers - so I will keep trying this and see how it goes.
posted by analog at 7:18 AM on July 12, 2012

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