The cat’s meow: Classical music ‘helps calm felines’

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A previous study found that classical music could help relax dogs, but now research has also found that the music can help cats relax. In fact, it seems that violins are the instrument of choice for calming down felines.

Researchers have discovered that Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings can help to calm cats down. It was also suggested that the music may help with their recovery following veterinary procedures.

The Portuguese study saw researchers fitting earphones to 12 cats' ears to allow them to listen to music while having surgery at a vets. Two-minute bursts of pop, rock and classical music were played while the cats were undergoing neutering surgery, with scientists measuring the cats' reactions while they were anaesthetised. 

Their reaction was monitored using a heartbeat monitor, as well as respiratory measurements and tracking pupil dilation.

It was discovered that pop music – Natalie Imbruglia's Torn – was less effective at keeping the cats calm, while rock music – AC/DC's Thunderstruck – actually increased their stress levels. The classical music was the best at helping them relax.

Previous research has found that listening to music can help people to feel less stress and pain; however, this is the first time it has been shown that it could have the same effect on felines.

Dr Miguel Carriera, a veterinary surgeon at the University of Lisbon, Portugal and leader of the study, said: "After reading about the influence of music on physiological parameters in humans, I decided to design a study protocol to investigate whether music could have any physiological effects on my surgical patients…

"During consultations I have noticed, for example, that most cats like classical music, particularly George Handel compositions, and become more calm, confident and tolerant throughout the clinical evaluation."

Other studies have suggested that cats prefer classical music as a whole, citing the fact that the tempos and frequencies match purring as a probable reason.

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