Researchers composed a cat-special music by mixing kitten’s purring and suckling sound, and the cats showed less stress and anxiety. Music has the ability to keep cats calm at the vet’s office, but the music has to be composed just for them!
Although this field is comparatively recent, a number of scientific studies have found the relation between music and animals – mostly classical music.
Police dog kennels and veterinaries around the world use classical music to soothe the dogs and keep them happy and calm. However, when it comes to cats, it’s a bit trickier.
A new study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery’s February 2020 issue regarding the effect of music on the stress levels of felines at the vet’s office.
The researchers involved in the study were from Louisiana State University. They exposed some domesticated cats to 3 different situations in order to analyze the outcomes. The first group of cats was kept in a music-less environment, the second group heard a Gabriel Fauré piece titled Élégie, and the music played to the third group was a piece that had been created specifically for cats.
Here is a good example of Music for cats:
The Gabriel Fauré piece is was chosen for two reasons:
The tempo of the composition is alike the pulse rate of resting humans, which is 1.1 beats per second (66 per minute), and the frequencies are within the vocal range of humans.
The music which was specially composed for cats used the range and sound similar to the vocalizations of cats. For example, the cat’s vocalization is generally about 55-200 Hz (about two octaves higher than human vocalization).
The idea behind it is that a cat’s brain’s emotional centers develop at a very early age when they are suckling kittens. The cat-special composition emulated the sounds of suckling and purring that cats frequently hear when they are infants. The composers had woven those purring and suckling sounds into the frequency range featuring the tempos of cat vocalizations and ended up with music for cats.
The cats were exposed to the special piece created specifically for them for 10 minutes in the waiting room before a venipuncture and full examination involving two veterinary trainees. The cat’s owners were nowhere to be seen. The cat’s heart rates, respiratory rates, temperature were tested along with some other tests. After a couple of weeks, the cats got assigned to a different group and the researchers ran the tests all over again.
The researchers took the measurement of the stress levels of all the cats through a series of indicators; namely, whether the neutrophil to lymphocyte (NLR) ratios reduced in the blood at the time of a physical test.
The researchers assigned a number of “stress scores” before and after the cats were exposed to music (not for the group that was not exposed to music). The stress levels of all the cats in all three groups were nearly the same before the test began.
Unlike the other two groups (one with no music, and another with classical music) the cat group that exposed to the cat-special music remained relatively calm and quiet once the tests started. The NLRs in their blood remained the same, however, all other stress marks lowered down when the cat-special music was playing. The other groups got nervous and anxious when their owners got out of sight once the test began.
NLR levels in the blood is an important factor as they measure the effects of the stress hormone called ‘cortisol’. The neutrophils circulation in the blood enhances when the body responds to stress. And NLR levels remaining the same in stressful situations indicates that the subjects are not being stressed out, even they are exposed to such a situation.
That being said, the researchers mentioned that there are other studies that indicate that after any stressful event, it takes around three hours for a cat’s neutrophils to return to normal levels. They noted that their 20-minute period-long study was too short to observe the cat’s full reaction to their special music.
Although the idea of cat-specific music might appear unconventional, there are quite serious concerns behind it. Going to the vet is not only stressful the cat’s owner, often the cats themselves spend a quite stressful time there, and it often becomes difficult for both the owner and the vet to handle the cats.
The researchers hope that cat-special music may have the potential to give the cats and their owners a much less stressful and anxious time when visiting the vet’s office.