New research reveals compositions tailored to felines leads to less anxiety.

By Jennifer Aldrich
February 26, 2020

Doctor visits can cause anxiety in humans, so we can only imagine what a cat, who has no idea what's going on, must be going through at the vet's office. If you're an unlucky owner who has experienced scratches, hisses, and bites from taking your feline to the veterinarian, there might be hope for your next visit. A new study says playing certain music can relax your pet, and make the whole experience more pleasant for everyone involved.

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The effects of calming music isn't exactly a new phenomenon. One study titled "The benefits of music in hospital waiting rooms" reveals how patients had lower stress levels and better perceptions of customer service while listening to music when waiting to see their doctor. Another study, "The clinical effects of music therapy in palliative medicine," even said "music therapy is invaluable in palliative medicine" because the results were so profoundly positive. In animals, the research regarding music and medicine hasn't been as vast, but researchers have previously studied how cats react to music while under general anesthesia.

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For this study, "Effects of music on behavior and physiological stress response of domestic cats in a veterinary clinic," published in the February issue of Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, scientists at Lousiana State University analyzed how cats responded to music composed specially for felines. They played music inspired by cat noises, including purring, and suckling sounds, in high frequencies that are similar to a kitty's vocal range.

Researchers videotaped 20 pets at vet examinations for the study. Each pet listened to 10 minutes of music before their exam, including a cat-specific composition ("Scooter Bere's Aria" by David Teie), a classical number ("Élégie" by Fauré), and silence, in a random order. The cats did this for three appointments that were two weeks apart. The feline's stress scores (based on behavior and posture), as well as their handling scores (how they reacted to the vet), were recorded. They also examined blood samples to look for a physiological response to stress.

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The results revealed that the pets were "significantly" less stressed while listening to the cat-specified music, compared to both the classical song and the silence. Although there were no signs of a physiological reaction, researchers say the music might not have been played long enough to cause a response.

Not only are the findings encouraging for our four-legged friends, but they're also promising for people, too. A more relaxed cat makes the vet's job easier and leaves the owner resting a bit easier knowing their beloved feline isn't nervous. Next time you make an appointment for your cat, try playing some special tunes beforehand to calm them.

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