How Mozart Could Make Your Kitty's Spaying Safer

Research suggests classical music can ease feline stress on the operating table
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2015 7:29 AM CDT
How Mozart Could Make Your Kitty's Spaying Safer
A three-year-old tom cat named Cato investigates the snow following a late winter storm Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, in Denver.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Surgery isn't a calming experience—so it only makes sense that your cat would rather hear soothing strings than distorted guitars. In what has to be one of science's odder recent experiments, researchers in Portugal decided to pop a pair of headphones on a dozen cats while they were being spayed (and thus weren't conscious; humans have been shown to react to music during general anesthesia, a press release notes). The researchers assessed the felines' reactions to three different two-minute pieces of music: Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings," "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia, and, in case the operation wasn't stressful enough, the AC/DC song "Thunderstruck," Popular Science reports. Apparently, hard rock just wasn't really the cats' thing.

Researchers determined this by tracking the cats' pupil dilation and breathing speed to assess how relaxed they were. Classical music was, it seems, the most relaxing; Natalie Imbruglia was in the middle; and AC/DC was the most stressful. Not hugely surprising, it seems: A veterinarian notes that "during consultations, I have noticed … that most cats like classical music, particularly George Handel compositions, and become more calm, confident, and tolerant throughout the clinical evaluation." That helped inspire the experiment, whose results could help vets reduce the amount of anesthesia used during operations by adding music, "reducing undesirable side effects of anesthetic agents and thus promoting patient safety," the authors write in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. (The real question is: How do cats feel about Taylor Swift?)

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