Online radio station attempts to soothe the feline soul
The recent compositions of an accomplished musician may sound unusual to the human ear but David Teie says his output of late targets a different type of audience.
“It’s going to take a while, I think, to convince people that what’s really silly is that something like music can only be available to one species,” said Teie in a Skype interview with CTV from Virginia. “I’m hoping that gradually it becomes more and more accepted.”
Teie spent approximately eight years developing a theory on how music affects emotion in humans before realizing his findings could be tailored for other species.
“The first test was with cotton-top tamarin monkeys,” explained Teie. “We took it to the University of Wisconsin, they did research there, and it turned out to be effective. It was the first music to be effective for any other species than human.”
“Not many people have monkeys so the next idea was cats.”
The accomplished cellist, conductor and music director, who happens to be allergic to cats, developed music for felines based on cat vocalizations and brain development.
“Cats purr when they’re content, as we know, but they also purr when they’re in pain. It’s a communication of a request for sympathy,” said Teie. “It took me a long time to figure out how to make it work as well as it needed to work.”
“It took five people and four software programs about two weeks to create a two second blurp of my favourite purr instrument. It started with drumming on a toy football, of all things, and I included some wind sounds and it has some air movement. It was a pretty complicated process.”
The fruits of his labour involving nearly 30 purr instruments have been made available to the public with the release of Cat Calm Radio, feline-friendly music that debuted on national ‘Take your cat to the vet day’.
Dr. Laura Fick, a Calgary-based veterinarian, says the science behind the music’s calming influence on cats has merit.
“As humans, the earliest sounds that we heard were our mother’s heartbeat. It’s that pulsatile sound. Music created for humans is very pulse driven,” said Dr. Fick. “With cats, their development is different so typically what happens is their acoustic apparatus and how the brain works is set up after they’re born. The sounds that they’re first conscious of are their mother’s purr, sounds of their littermates suckling.”
Fick says cats are creatures of habit and routine and any disruption, including a drive to the veterinary clinic, can upset the animal. “They like their insular life. What happens is usually on the day that you’re headed to the vet everybody’s a little stressed out and you have to get the cat in the crate, you have to get in the car and it disrupts the cat’s routine profoundly.”
She believes the cat-friendly music could go a long way in alleviating the stress. “This is a wonderful opportunity because now we’re looking at (are) there ways that we can mitigate that stress for cats without doing anything that’s too invasive.”
Fick she introduces her own cats to the music and it resulted in a calm experience for her and her two pets.
Teie says his music could be adopted within the veterinary medical field. “We just had a study finished last month at Louisiana State University’s veterinary medicine school where they did a test on clinical applications of the music,” said Teie. “They said that it was very effective in calming the cat’s down.”
To hear the cat-friendly music for yourself, visit Cat Calm Radio
With files from CTV’s Brenna Rose