We’re all looking for that special bond that allows a cat to fall asleep in our lap, or initiate play. If that bond seems to be missing between you and your pet, she might be suffering from anxiety. And music might be just the thing to take the edge off and soothe her anxious mind, says the Head of the Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic, Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM.
In one study conducted at the University of Portugal, cats undergoing surgery had headphones placed on their ears. When classical music was played, their heart rate decreased, as did the diameter of their pupils — both signs that the song (Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings) had a soothing effect. Rock & Roll, on the other hand (AC/DC’s Thunderstruck), increased both heart rate and pupil diameter.
A website called MusicMyPet.com adds that music performed on the harp is used throughout the world as a means not only of reducing stress but also healing sick animals. And some research has shown that cats will relax in front of speakers playing classical music. One caveat: the music has to be soothing all the way through. It can’t be, for instance, Haydn’s Surprise Symphony, in which the music periodically takes a turn for the loud.
Based on the evidence, it’s not surprising that a number of animal shelters have installed sound systems for the purpose of playing music in order to create a more serene environment for the animals in their care. If your own cat is frustratingly skittish, and even if she’s not, why not try it at home? It may take some trial and error, as cats hear and enjoy sounds in somewhat different frequency ranges than we do. But you’ll soon find that you can settle on something that will get both you and your pet purring.
To get started, you may want to check out “Relax My Cat” on youtube.com. It’s free and offers a series of musical videos that are designed specifically to quell feline anxiety. You’ll enjoy it, too.