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Cats chill out while listening to tunes

Not all music was relaxing, however. One song in particular made cats more anxious.

By Brooks Hays
Cats chill out while listening to tunes
A cat under general anesthesia listens to some tunes via headphones. Photo by Margaret Melling/JFMS

LISBON, Portugal, March 30 (UPI) -- It's a common problem. You're trying to neuter your cat, but it won't stop spazzing out. No worries, researchers in Portugal have come up with a simple solution -- music.

Music has been shown to have significant psychological effects on humans. It turns out, the sounds of music have similar effects on felines. Music helps cats relax, even as they're strapped to a table about to have their reproductive capabilities taken forever.

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The research was organized by Dr. Miguel Carreira, a veterinarian at the University of Lisbon.

"During consultations I have noticed, for example, that most cats like classical music, particularly George Handel compositions," Carreira noted in a press release. He decided to put his observation to the test.

To study the effects of music on cats, Carreira and his colleagues, at the university and at a clinic in the nearby town of Barreiro, played a variety of songs for 12 female cats through specially fitted headphones. They listened to the songs as they were being anesthetized for neutering surgery. The researchers measured the cats' heart rate, respiratory rate and pupil dilation to determine the level of relaxation.

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The results proved Carrieria's hypothesis correct. Classic music elicited the deepest state of relaxation. Pop music brought mixed results, and hard rock (AC/DC's "Thunderstruck") brought on higher levels of stress.

The researchers say they plan to conduct further experiments to better measure music's effect on physiological parameters -- hormones, cortisol and catecholamines, for example -- in both cats and dogs. They hope future studies will involve more intricate measuring and analysis tools, like functional MRI and electroencephalography.

The study was published this week in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.

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