Felines’ Feelings Toward Music

kitties and Music

If you are not a cat lover (and even if you are), you might have never known of a true scientific magazine — the venerable Journal of Feline Medicine. It is, as the name suggests, dedicated to all things medical related to felines. Such as this article: Influence of music and its genres on respiratory rate and pupil diameter variations in cats under general anaesthesia: contribution to promoting patient safety.

Based on peoples’ experience and proven scientific research, it’s been known for a while already: listening to music reduces pain and stress in human patients. Music calms nerves. It soothes people. It makes them happy.

The study in the Journal of Feline Medicine is thought to be the first one to prove that music affects felines in the similar way it affects humans.

In cognitive science, music is one of the most intriguing and eccentric components of human culture, being apparently universal. In a non-consensual way, music can be defined as the art of organising sound in a temporal dimension according to such properties as melody, harmony, rhythm and tone in order to produce a continuous, unified and evocative composition. Regardless of its definition, it is widely accepted that music has different physiological and psychological effects on the individual. (–From the above article.)


‘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.

‘In the surgical theatres at the faculty where I teach and at the private veterinary medical centre where I spend my time operating, environmental music is always present.” (Dr Miguel Carreira, a veterinary surgeon at the University of Lisbon, Portugal who led the study.)

The researchers found that  classical music — Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, for instance, or George Handel’s compositions  — made the cats more relaxed while Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn was slightly less effective. Listening to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck appeared to have an opposite effect — it significantly increased the stress levels in the animals already stressed out by the ordeal of the surgery.

‘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.’ (Dr Miguel Carreira.)

The researchers fit 12 cats with headphones and — after exposing the cats to at least two minutes of silence — played random clips of music during neutering surgery. While at it, the researchers were monitoring their subjects heartbeat, measuring their respiratory rate and pupil diameter (see the cat’s pinched tongue, wired to the monitor.)

undergoing surgery

Cat undergoing surgery at a veterinary clinic in Portugal, the site of the research.

The talented psychologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and musicians at the University of Maryland composed  the first “species-specific” music for domestic cats. The music replicates the rhythms of cat’s purring and high pitched meows. Well, wow and meow!

It’s been determined that cats liked feline tunes even more than they liked human classical music by Bach, Faure and Barber.

Interesting sound. Listen. 

It is claimed that this music makes cat less agitated and all nine kitty’s lives more fulfilling. Pet owners are encouraged to play this composition to their beloved felines, and play it often. Let’s hope it won’t make the owners more agitated and their own only lives more miserable.

The researchers now hope to look at how music might impact other animals including dogs.

Cute kitties of the top image came from this site, dedicated to the pictures of cats listening to music.


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