Study finds ‘cat-friendly’ music could calm stressed cats

Playing your feline friend music specially created for cats during vet visits could help calm them down, according to new research.(Rawpixel pic)

LOUISIANA: If you’re planning on taking your cat to the vet anytime soon then you might want to consider preparing a cat-friendly playlist for your feline friend, says a new US study, which has found that playing music specifically created for cats can help calm them down in stressful situations.

Carried out by researchers at Louisiana State University (LSU), the new study recruited 20 pet cats and played them 20 minutes of cat-specific music (‘Scooter Bere’s Aria’ by David Teie), classical music (‘Élégie’ by Fauré) or no music at all in a random order at each of three physical examinations at the vets, two weeks apart.

Cat-specific music is based on the same principle of what makes music pleasing to the human ear, which is often compositions which have a beat similar to our resting pulse rate and contain frequencies from the human vocal range.

Similarly, cat-specific music is composed of lines based on affiliative cat vocalisations, such as purring and suckling sounds, and frequencies similar to the feline vocal range.

The researchers measured the cat’s stress levels based on their behaviour and body posture and on their reactions to their handler. Blood samples were also taken from each cat to measure the levels of neutrophils and lymphocytes, which indicate a physiological stress response.

The findings, published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (JFMS), showed that compared with listening to both classical music and no music, the cats appeared to be less stressed during their vet visit when they were played cat-specific music, as indicated by both their stress scores and handling scale scores.

However, the levels of neutrophils and lymphocytes in the blood didn’t reflect the lower stress levels observed by the researchers, although the team did note that 20 minutes of music may not be long enough to see a physiological effect.

The positive effect of music on health has already been studied in both humans and animals.

Some studies have shown that for humans, listening to music can improve motor and cognitive function in stroke patients and help to reduce anxiety before medical examinations and surgery, while for animals, research has shown that cats under general anaesthesia are not only physiologically responsive to music, but they also appear to be more relaxed if they are played classical music, compared with pop and heavy metal.

The researchers say that the new findings could help decrease a cat’s stress levels and reassure owners that their pet will have a less stressful visit.

You can listen to “Scooter Bere’s Aria” by David Teie now on YouTube: