music

Cats Are Part of the Family Business at Wood Violins

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I recently received one of the most creative marketing emails involving cats I had seen in a long time. It came from Wood Violins, a company created by acclaimed musician Mark Wood. Wood Violins handcrafts absolutely amazing electric violins, and from the marketing email, it became clear to me that they have some feline assistance with their work.

I first met Mark Wood ten years ago when he was touring with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Until then, I had never heard anyone play an electric violin, and I was mesmerized. Fourteen years ago, Mark created Electrify Your Strings, a music educational phenomenon that inspires Continue Reading

Review: Through A Cat’s Ear: Music for Calming

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I was very excited when I first heard about Through a Cat’s Ear, which combines music and sound therapy techniques, specifically designed for feline anxiety. This is not just simple relaxation music.

Why Through a Cat’s Ear is different from other relaxation music

Composer, music producer and sound researcher Joshua Leeds has been studying psychoacoustics—the effect of music and sound on human beings—since 1986. In 2003, concert pianist Lisa Spector inquired about adapting human sound therapy for dogs. Leeds began research into canine acoustic environments, which led to the release of the acclaimed audio series Through a Dog’s Ear. Through tonal and tempo selections, and simplification of solo piano music, Lisa and Joshua discovered effective solutions for many canine anxiety issues.

Since the 2008 release of Through a Dog’s Ear music, requests for music specially designed for catsContinue Reading

An interview with James Bowen, street musician and author of A Street Cat Named Bob

If you read my review of A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope on the Streets, you already know how much I loved the book. I couldn’t put it down, but at the same time, I didn’t want it to end! I definitely wanted to know more about James and Bob.

I was delighted to get an opportunity to interview James, and to share more about this amazing story with you.

How has your life changed since the book came out?

It hasn’t changed a huge amount really, I still play music most days with Bob around Covent Garden in London. That said, we do get a lot more attention than we did before.

Has his newfound fame changed Bob?Continue Reading

Book review: A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

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I love stories about people who change their lives for the better. I love those stories even more when the catalyst for that change is a cat (pun intended). I was pretty sure that I would love A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope 0n the Streets. I wasn’t prepared for just how much I loved it.

I had head the story of James Bowen, a down on his luck British street musician who was busking the streets of London with his orange cat Bob. Bowen and his cat caught the attention of Mary Pachnos, a literary agent who had represented the British edition of Marley and Me. One day, Pachnos asked Bowen whether he’d ever thought about writing a book about Bob. A little over a month after its publication, the book has landed on British bestseller lists, and already, translation rights for several different countries have been sold. I wouldn’t be suprised at all if Hollywood snapped this story up.Continue Reading

Mood music for cats

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Playing soft music has been shown to reduce stress in humans and animals alike. Some feline behaviorists say that playing relaxing music can keep cats calm and even stop them from fighting with other cats in the same household. A recent study at Colorado State University is looking at how classical music can help make a veterinary visit less stressful and thus lead to better veterinary care for cats.

I recently came across a cd made especially for cats. Mood Music For Cats (And Cat Lovers) –  A Ball of Twine… Your Cat’s First CD is a collection of soothing tunes blending piano, harp and strings, with title tracks such as Tuna Sonata, Vet Visit Blues, and Catatonia.

The music is truly beautiful. Continue Reading

Can classical music lead to better veterinary care for cats?

Nora the piano cat

While cats outnumber dogs as pets (according to the latest statistics from the American Pet Products Association, there are 78.2 million households that own dogs versus 86.4 million that own cats), cats receive significantly less veterinary care than dogs. A veterinary study by Bayer shows that dogs visit the vet about 2.3 times a year compared to 1.7 times a year for cats. One of the most cited reasons by cat owners is the stress cats (and their owners) experience with a typical visit to the veterinarian, both on the way there and while at the clinic.

A new study at Colorado State University is looking at how classical music can help make a veterinary visit less stressful and thus lead to better veterinary care for cats.

Numerous studies in human medicine have shown that classical music can reduce stress in patients by lowering pain levels, blood pressure, heart and respiratory rates.  This response appears to be the same in animals. For example, one study of dogs in rescue shelters showed that classical music changed their behavior to produce more periods of rest, less time standing and more quiet time.

From the Colorado State University Office of Public Relations news release:

“If this study finds that classical music lowers the stress levels for cats and their caretakers during veterinary visits, veterinarians can start using calming music in their waiting room immediately and improve the emotional health of those in their clinic — human and four-legged,” said Dr. Narda Robinson, a veterinarian at Colorado State University.

In addition to the potential stress-reducing benefits of music for felines and their caretakers, relaxed cats are easier for veterinarians to examine and need less restraint.

Robinson and fellow researcher Lori Kogan, a psychologist with Colorado State University who specializes in veterinary and animal issues, want to enroll 50 cats and their caretakers in the study. Cats will need to visit the Veterinary Teaching Hospital two times to be randomly exposed to one of two different soundscapes — either no music or slow, classical music– during each visit while in an exam room for about 15 minutes. The waiting time will be videotaped and behavior will be noted through an observation window by independent observers who will not know if music is playing in the exam room. Clients will also fill out surveys about their own as well as their cat’s stress levels before and after the session. An appointment with a veterinarian is not necessary, and cats enrolled in the study will not be examined by a veterinarian as part of the study.

If you live in the Ft. Collins, CO area, your cat may be eligible to participate in the study. Qualifying cats must be able to hear and meet some minimal health requirements, while caretakers must be able to bring cats to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital during afternoon, evening, or weekends for two visits at least two days apart.

I’m excited about this study. Coming on the heels of the Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines issued by the American Association of Feline Practitioners, it’s encouraging to see that more major organizations are making efforts to make cats’ lives better.

Do your cats respond to music? If so, what kind of music do they like?

Photo of Nora the Piano Cat, photo credit: Burnell Yow! , used by permission. According to Burnell, Nora’s favorite composer is Bach.

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Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines to make vet visits easier for cats

Is your vet cat-friendly?