Music Calms Cats Under Stress
Despite their often laid-back appearance, cats can be affected by stress, causing them to act out. A new study shows that when cats are not feeling well, playing music, especially yoga meditation music, can calm them down.
The new study, which was conducted by a student veterinary nurse in Wales, involved cats that were being treated at a veterinary clinic. Sian Barr found that when she played yoga meditation music and Om Shanti tunes, the cats that were recovering from surgery calmed down and had improved breathing.
Cats that are recovering from surgery must spend their time in cages. Ms Barr explained that “because a cat is in a cage and isn’t able to do what it would like to do, so stress levels will increase and it will become wound up and angry.” Cats under such stressful conditions do not heal as quickly because the stress has a negative impact on their immune system.
In her study, Barr studied two groups of cats that had undergone surgery. For one group she played relaxation music, while the other group was not exposed to the music. She found that “music had a dramatic effct on respiration rates, with those exposed to the music decreasing to a relaxed rate much quicker than those not exposed.”
Cats that are stressed can act out in several ways, including being aggressive toward people or other pets, urinating in unusual locations or going outside the litter box, hiding, not eating, and losing hair. In addition to surgery, cats can become stressed by other changes in their lives, such as introduction of another pet, a new baby in the house, loss of a pet, loud noises, visitors in the house, and changes in their food or even in the brand of litter you use.
In addition to playing relaxing music for a cat under stress, other measures cat owners can take include introducing new foods and/or litter gradually (e.g., mixing the old with the new over a period of time), offering the cat toys for exercise and distraction, offering a place for the cat to climb or hide (e.g., a “cat condo”), hiring a pet sitter if you are going away for an extended vacation (cats are more comfortable in their own surroundings than in a strange kennel), and introducing the cat to new pets and/or people gradually. You might also leave music playing when no one is home to help keep the cat calm as well.
Telegraph UK, July 20, 2010