Music can help cats relax, the same way it helps us relax, and when cats are recovering from surgical procedures, music can help. However, rock and pop don’t seem to be what cats want. One study shows that cats prefer classical music as a soothing sound, especially during surgery.
How did anyone discover that cats prefer classical music to other genres?
Now wait, you might ask. Cats are under during surgery. How can their reactions to music be measured? Like us, they can still hear, and they respond to it, even under anesthesia. It started with Dr. Miguel Carreira, of Portugal, saying that music plays all the time in his clinic. To him, it’s an “important element in promoting a sense of wellbeing in the team, the animals, and their owners.”
The clinicians studied 12 female cats undergoing spaying procedures, fitted them with headphones, and recorded the size of the cats’ pupils and their respiratory rates. The cats were exposed to two minutes of silence (as a control), and then two minutes each of Barber’s “Adagio for Strings (Opus 11),” Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn,” and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”
They noticed that the cats’ pupil sizes and respiratory rates indicated that they were most relaxed when the classical music was playing. The heavy metal of AC/DC produced a much more stressed state, while the pop music was in between. These cats prefer classical music written by Handel the best.
Are there any benefits to knowing that cats prefer classical music at the vet’s office?
The researchers think that knowing what music to play while cats are under may lead to reducing the required doses of anesthesia, since any animal under anesthesia stands a better chance of remaining asleep than a stressed animal. This is a very good thing.
Researchers recently worked to determine what kind of music cats might actually respond to, and wrote some music with frequencies, tempos and rhythms that cats normally use to communicate. They used higher pitches, and stuck to tempos that are similar to cats’ purrs and suckling sounds. They found that a lot of cats respond very well to this music.
However, whether cat music has a calming effect remains to be seen. The cats that the researchers creating the cat music worked with would focus on the music. There is, however, the possibility that, given the right cat music, it would work the best at relaxing cats, even those under anesthesia.