Music can reduce cats' stress levels, study shows

Music can reduce cats' stress levels, study shows

Listening to music is good for our health: it can lower our stress levels, decrease anxiety and reduce pain.

But does music benefit our pets in the same way?

In a new study, Amanda Hampton from the School of Veterinary Medicine at Louisiana State University and colleagues explored the calming effects of music composed specifically for cats.

Previous research has shown that cats are responsive to music even when they are under general anaesthesia, and that they appear to be in a more relaxed state when played classical music, compared with pop or heavy metal.

Humans tend to prefer music with a beat that is similar to a person’s resting heart rate and with frequencies from within the human vocal range.

Based on this principle, the researchers used “cat-specific music” composed of lines based on positive cat vocalisations, such as purring, and frequencies similar to the feline vocal range, which is two octaves higher than for humans.

Hampton and colleagues enrolled 20 pet cats and played them 20 minutes of cat-specific music (Scooter Bere’s Aria), classical music (Élégie by Fauré) or no music (silence) in a random order at each of three veterinary examinations over the course of two weeks.

There was little difference between the stress scores and handling scores for cats listening to silence versus classical music. However, listening to cat-specific music prior to, and during, physical examination was associated with lower stress scores and lower handling scores compared with classical music or no music at all.

The researchers concluded that cat-specific music may benefit cats by decreasing stress levels and increasing quality of care in veterinary clinical settings.

“Adding cat-specific music to veterinary offices as environmental enrichment could provide great value to the cat’s welfare in the clinic, to the client’s comfort and confidence in the veterinary team, and the veterinary team’s ability to accurately assess the patient,” they said.

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