Planet Earth

What type of music is best for relaxing cats during surgery? (Hint: it's not heavy metal.)

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Photo: flickr/superformosa

Music helps people relax in stressful situations, but what about non-human animals? This study investigated whether playing different kinds of music relaxes cats undergoing surgery (spaying, to be exact). Our favorite part of this research is the choice of music: "For each of these surgical time points, patients were first assessed in a silent scenario as a self-control (CT) and then exposed to three different genres of music: classical music (CM), ‘Adagio For Strings (Opus 11)’ by Samuel Barber; pop music (PM), ‘Thorn’ [sic] by Natalie Imbruglia; and heavy metal (HM), ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC. Musical stimulation was performed for 2 mins for each genre." The result? Perhaps not surprisingly, the cats were most relaxed when listening to classical music, and least relaxed while listening to AC/DC. Maybe they should try "species-appropriate" music (music made especially for cats) next?

Influence of music and its genres on respiratory rate and pupil diameter variations in cats under general anaesthesia: contribution to promoting patient safety "Objectives The aims of the study were to recognise if there is any auditory sensory stimuli processing in cats under general anaesthesia, and to evaluate changes in respiratory rate (RR) and pupillary diameter (PD) in anaesthetised patients exposed to different music genres, while relating this to the depth of anaesthesia. Methods A sample of 12 cats submitted for elective ovariohysterectomy were exposed to 2 min excerpts of three different music genres (classical [CM], pop [PM] and heavy metal [HM]) at three points during surgery (T1 = coeliotomy; T2 = ligature placement and transection of the ovarian pedicle; T3 = ligature placement and transection of the uterine body). A multiparametric medical monitor was used to measure the RR, and a digital calliper was used for PD measurement. Music was delivered through headphones, which fully covered the patient’s ears.Results Statistically significant differences between stimuli conditions for all surgical points were obtained for RR (T1, P = 0.03; T2, P = 0.00; and T3, P = 0.00) and for PD (T1, P = 0.03; T2, P = 0.04; and T3, P = 0.00). Most individuals exhibited lower values for RR and PD when exposed to CM, intermediate values to PM and higher values to HM. Conclusions and relevance The results suggest that cats under general anaesthesia are likely to perform auditory sensory stimuli processing. The exposure to music induces RR and PD variations modulated by the genre of music and is associated with autonomic nervous system activity. The use of music in the surgical theatre may contribute to allowing a reduced anaesthetic dose, minimising undesirable side effects and thus promoting patient safety." Related content: Scientists make “species-appropriate” music just for cats. Listen here!The latest cat fashion trend also protects local birds.Why you prefer the music you listened to as a teenager.

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