The music that relaxes cats in surgical theatres

A study of the University of Lisbon shows how music, in particular classical music, relaxes cats in the surgical environment.

Music has many beneficial effects on humans and, according to recent studies, even on patients in the surgical environment, since it helps reduce pain, anxiety and stress. A joint study of the University of Lisbon and a clinic of Barreiro, Portugal, published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, reveals that music has positive influence even on our feline friends under general anaesthesia. Actually, depending on music genres. Cats, it seems, mainly benefit from classical music.


Lead author of this piece of research, Miguel Carreira, explains: “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, and is an important element in promoting a sense of wellbeing in the team, the animals, and their owners. Different music genres affect individuals in different ways. 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”.


Gatto chitarra


The clinicians studied 12 female cats undergoing surgery for neutering, registered their respiratory rate and pupil diameter variations at various levels of anaesthesia. Cats, fitted with earphones, were exposed to two minutes of silence, followed randomly by two minutes of “Adagio for Strings (Op. 11)” by Samuel Barber, Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” and “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC. Results showed that cats were relaxed when they were listening to the classical song, quite relaxed with the pop song and not relaxed with the hard rock piece. So, according to the researchers, using certain musical genres in surgical theatres allows a decrease of the dose of anaesthetic agent, limiting the odds of undesirable side effects. So, what would happen if cats in a surgical environment listened to music for cats (like, for instance, this) rather than human music?

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