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Pet Music Therapy? The Sound of Success!

by | Feb 13, 2020 | Cat Behavior & Care | 17 comments

Pet music therapy can help solve cat behavior problems as well as offer physical therapeutic benefits. Our pet cats are attuned to sound and are incredibly sensitive to noises, including music.

With Valentine’s Day celebrations this weekend, some pets with “stranger danger” issues are in for a rough ride (tips here for helping when pets hate your date!). Pet music therapy can also help, so read on.

cat with musical instruments

Seren appreciates string music from my cello or violin.

CAT FACTS, THE SERIES only from Amy’s Newsletter

I’m sharing this information from my PET MUSIC THERAPY entry from Cat Facts, The Series 13 (M): The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia which includes these topics:

Mammary Glands, Mange, Marking, Massage, Mastitis, Mega Colon, Miliary Dermatitis, Milk (as Food), and Music Therapy.

I’ve broken the massive CAT FACTS book into catnip-size alpha-chapter sections. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every week or so, but ONLY for subscribers on my Amy’s Newsletter Of course, you can still get the entire CAT FACTS book either in Kindle or 540+ pages of print.

WHAT IS PET MUSIC THERAPY?

Pleasant music can mask scary noises like thunder, or upsetting sounds like a trespassing cat’s vocalizations that put your pet’s tail in a twist. But more than that, the cadence of certain sounds influences the body’s natural rhythms and can speed them up and energize the listener, or slow them down to calm him.

For instance, a fearful cat can be soothed with music or distracted with nature sounds like water running from a fountain. Lethargic pets that need to exercise can be energized with chirping bird sounds or fast music to get up and boogie to the beat.

pet music therapy

Many dogs enjoy music, and “howl along” with singing or the keyboard.

WHY PET MUSIC WORKS

Sound causes physical changes in the body. Brain waves change with different kinds of sounds—music with a pulse of about 60 beats per minute slows the brain waves so the listener feels more relaxed and peaceful and shifts the consciousness into a more alert state. This rhythm also slows breathing, which calms the mind and improves the metabolism. It works for humans, and also for our pets.

Even the heart wants to follow the pulse of the music—faster rhythms energize the listener as his heartbeat increases and blood pressure rises, while slower tempos calm. Listening to music releases endorphins—natural painkillers that are produced by the brain—and reduces the levels of “stress hormones” in the blood.

cat music therapy

MUSIC IS SOUND MEDICINE

Sound therapy is still considered pretty new. One of the best known applications is ultrasound that uses the “echo” of high frequency sound waves to take diagnostic pictures inside the body—doctors even use it to break up kidney stones with vibration instead of surgery. Over the last 20 years, music therapy has become a staple of the human mental health profession, and is often used with troubled children and brain-disordered patients.

Today, harp music is used to relieve pain that drugs don’t help, soothes emotional upset, and has become of particular help in hospice situations for human patients. The sound of harp music calms fractious cats and offers almost a natural sedative effect so that the upset animals become quiet, and go to sleep.

HOW TO USE PET MUSIC THERAPY

The simplest way to treat cats with music is to put on a CD or turn on the radio. Choose music you like—pets seem to respond best to music their owners enjoy because of the bond you share. If you have favorite music you often play, your pet will associate the sound with your presence, so playing that same music when he’s alone will remind him of you and help ease problems like separation anxiety. Play the music for at least 10 to 15 minutes at a time to get your pet in the right mood.

LOUD, SOFT, CLASSICAL OR ROCK?

Soft music with a slow, steady rhythm helps calm agitated pets. It can help arthritic cats relax their muscles and increase their range of motion. Many pets enjoy Mozart or other classical music. New Age, soft jazz, nature sounds or even ballad-type Country can be soothing. The music should be melodic (not dissonant) and the tempo even and slow. You can play calming music anytime your pet feels stressed, or all day long as a background to help keep him calm.

Turn up the volume to energize your pet. Moderate to loud music with a more driving beat energizes the emotions and can encourage lethargic pets to exercise and lift depression or grief. Rock music, even the driving energy of Rap may get a pet’s tail moving, but any up-tempo music from classical to contemporary has the power to energize.

YOUR TURN!

Do your pets like music? Is it part of your doggy or cat protocol? What style of music do you (and your pets) prefer? Seren does her lion “cough-cough” when I hit a wrong note on the cello, and Magical-Dawg howls along when I sing too high. What about your furry wonders? Do tell!


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17 Comments

  1. Kelly

    Well I must say that I have never thought of music as a way to relax my pets! I know humans use music as enjoyment and relaxation but then it only seems logical that music could have the same effects on our pets.
    Thank you for opening my eyes – or my ears – to this.

    Reply
  2. Talent Hounds

    Interesting read! I feel animals would naturally like some genres over others. Reminds me of that scene in “The Secret Life of Pets” when the poodle can’t wait to blast music. If I’m out for long periods of time I have a Furbo that lets me talk to Kilo, maybe I’ll start singing to him!

    Reply
  3. Ruth Epstein

    I love the idea of music and when there are times that I think something is going to stress Layla I put on the Jazz music station and she totally relaxes 🙂

    Reply
  4. Tonya Wilhelm

    100% recommend calming music to my pet training clients. I’ve never seen it make a behavior worse, only improve, so it’s always added. I’ve used a calming cd for Dexter in his crate since puppy hood (now 7), as soon as the cd fires up, his eyes get heavy and he goes right in and sleeps!

    Reply
  5. Rama's Mama

    This is such a cool article. I use meditation/yoga music a lot to relax and calm myself, and to be completely honest, it’s been a while since I played it out loud at home. It probably would do my animals a world of good. Thanks for reminding me that animals benefit from pleasing sounds, too!

    Reply
  6. Rebecca at MattieDog

    Very wonderful post – music is the gateway to our inner most feelings of connection. It makes us feel – whether that be alive (rock), soothed (world), or funky (jazz) – it always delivers (including the sounds we play when our pups are around). When we depart the house we leave world music on for the pups – I’m certain that someday when we walk into the house we’ll catch them tangoing about! We also use music therapy in the hospitals – it is so very therapeutic!

    Reply
  7. Sweet Purrfections

    I tend to leave the TV on when I leave the house, but perhaps I should find a soothing radio station to leave on when I leave the house.

    Reply
  8. agirlandherhusky

    I have never thought about music therapy for pets! Thank you for sharing this information!

    Reply
  9. Beth

    My sister always leaves classic jazz on for her dogs when she leaves the house for a while. They are the most mellow dogs I know, so now I’m thinking the music might make a difference.

    Reply
  10. DashKitten

    We have a cd of lovely cat music I play for Dusty and he seems to respond to it. It incorporates purrs as well as classical ambient we both enjoy it a lot.

    Reply
  11. Cathy Armato

    This is SO interesting! I just knew this was true because I have this amazing Zen-like CD called Inner Peace by Stephen Halpern that is so soothing. When I play it for my dogs they instantly relax and fall asleep! It took me awhile to realize it was the music that was relaxing them. So now I play a lot more Inner Peace and a lot less Guns and Roses, BOL!!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    Reply
  12. Tenacious Little Terrier

    We’ve tried relaxing music for Mr. N but I haven’t noticed a difference. Maybe he’s not musical lol!

    Reply
  13. Kia

    This is good to know! I came across some pet related music playlists on Spotify a while back and have been meaning to see how Simba reacts to it.

    Reply
  14. Sadie & Co. (@SadieMae_and_Co)

    Our guys are partial to a bit of R&B as well as jazz. Sometimes they even put their scarves on and dance to a bit of country! My husband and I leave the music on if we go out. They seem to be less distracted by things going on outside.

    Reply
  15. Sonja

    Monte LOVES Baroque music. All of it. It’s so sweet. He’ll even sing to it.

    Reply
  16. Lindsay N Pevny

    I’m not sure if my dogs respond to music, but I do like to sing little songs to them.

    Reply
  17. Princely Paws (@princely_paws12)

    Animals respond very well to alternative therapies. I am sure that sound therapy is somerhing which will help a great deal

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Cat Separation Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms & What to Do - […] has shown harp music works as a natural sedative and actually puts cats to sleep. Learn about music therapy…
  2. Do Dogs Laugh? Keeping Us Happy With More Than Wags - […] played in the shelter, the listening canines acted calmer. We already know that some kinds of music can help…
  3. Can Animals Get Insomnia? Foiling Furry Insomnia - […] music can soothe and help lullaby pets to sleep. It works for people, too. Learn more about music and…

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