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Science perfects the feline surgery mixtape

The actual headphones used presumably covered the cats' ears, otherwise we have to question their scientific method.

The actual headphones used presumably covered the cats’ ears, otherwise we have to question their scientific method.

Have you ever wondered what music your cat would put on when choosing to unwind, if he or she had a Spotify account and opposable thumbs? Well, thanks to an experiment in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, you can wonder no more.

Veterinary clinicians from Portugal’s University of Lisbon followed 12 female cats due to be neutered, and monitored their reaction to various tunes, as they played DJ during the operation. The cats were fitted with adorable sounding tailored headphones, while their respiratory rate and pupil diameter were measured.

“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,” lead author Miguel Carreira told Science Daily.

“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.”

The experiment composed of four sections: a silent control, followed by extracts of Barber’s Adagio for Strings (Opus 11), Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn, and AC/DC’s Thunderstruck.

They discovered that cats, at least on the operating table, prefer the smooth sounds of classical music to the crashing guitars of rock. Each cat was significantly more relaxed with the strings than with the amp turned up to 11 – in fact, AC/DC’s music caused them considerably more stress, according to the metrics.

But what good can come from us understanding the best music for cats, other than knowing what gig to take them to? Well, if music can relax animals going under the knife, then surgeons may be able to use lower doses of anesthetic agents in future, not only saving money, but also considerably reducing the risk of nasty side effects.

So all in all, we’d say that the 12 cats’ suffering at the hands of AC/DC was probably worth it, for the good of cat-kind. Even AC/DC might salute them, but we doubt they’d like that.

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