Harp Therapy for Cats

Harp Therapy for Cats

by Michael
(London, UK)

Harp therapy for cats is not as cat crazy as it might sound. Music is relaxing and harp therapy has been used as a “healing instrument” in relation to people for thousands of year. Cats have a similar physiology to humans.

If your cat is fearful and panicky at a change in his or her routine harp therapy may be a useful and natural tool to help calm him.

The calming music can provide a welcome distraction and decrease anxiety.

One cause of stress in cats in separation anxiety and the harp therapy music of Sue Raimond has been recommended by veterinary schools such as Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and UC-Davis in California – respected institutions. Wait for the Sunset: Solo Harp

Dr. Patrick Melese a vet and animal behaviorist recommends harp music for anxious companion animals. Apparently the music can slow heart rates and breathing, increase endorphin levels and reduce stress hormones. It is thought to improve recovery time after surgery.

Sue Raimond explains how it works:

The harp string sends out “overtones” some of which people cannot hear (note: a cat’s hearing range is much larger than ours). The sound, “produces harmonic overtones that seem to work at a cellular level..” This lowers blood pressure.

The whole thing needs to be tested scientifically. But it can be tested in an informal manner by a willing cat keeper.

A time when both cat caretaker and cat are stressed is going to the veterinarian. Heavens I find that stressful. The fear of the unknown!

Why not pop a harp therapy CD in the car’s CD player and see what happens to you and the cat(s)? According to Sue Raimond, who does this, the cat must hear the music for at least three minutes at which point the cat settles down. After 20 minutes your cat, it is said, will be sleeping (possibly).

Here are a couple of Amazon harp therapy CD’s (actually one is a MP3 download) for humans..I guess they will be fine for cats:

The one below can is designed to be used with Reiki therapy and is an MP3 download – much cheaper. I have an article on Reiki therapy in the pipeline, hopefully.

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Harp Therapy for Cats

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Mar 23, 2011 Could be true
by: Anonymous

I think there could be something in this. I got a 3 year old cat recently who was quite timid when she first arrived in my house and wouldn’t come out from under the sofa for days. My harp was in the same room and I noticed every time I played it she would purr loudly from under the sofa.


Mar 22, 2011 Cats like arpeggios
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

I don’t think it’s the overtones of the harp that the cats are responding to. I think it’s that music that is idiomatic for harp includes lots and lots of arpeggios, or rolled chords. It has been my experience that cats respond to this style of music.

I used to cat sit for an elderly cat named Zach who loved music that was very idiomatic for piano– lots of rolled chords, arpeggiation, etc… (The kind of music that I, as an organist, really find to be difficult.) Homophonic music did nothing for him. Hymns and chorales he ignored. But music with the arpeggiated left hand he loved– he would sit behind me as I practiced the piano and purr.

I have noticed the same reaction from Monty, though he doesn’t purr. If the music is very idiomatic for the piano, that is the chords being played one note at a time in a moving fashion, instead of as solid, block chords, Monty will sit right next to me and listen and watch me. Those are the parts I have to do over and over– to me it would be boring to listen to– but he seems fascinated by it.

I should try him out with polyphony and see how he reacts. I only usually play Bach on the organ, but I have some two part things that could be done on piano. My guess is he won’t like it.

Flute music he doesn’t seem to mind unless it’s the really, really high notes, I suppose. He used to sit right in my lap as a kitten as I practiced on my little wooden flute. I won’t say he responded to it– he didn’t even seem aware of the music. He did enjoy biting the pages of my music and sitting on my book.

I would bet money that that harp CD works with cats, because of the response of both Zach and Monty to piano music when it was played in a similar manner to harp music. They noticed it while different styles of music were ignored, and I was able to repeat the results with more than one cat. I wonder what would happen if I practiced arpeggios on the flute?

Monty seems to like my song about Simon the seacat, but maybe because it contains the words cat and kitten fairly frequently, and he thinks it is about him.

It would be interesting if other readers of this site would try various styles of music with their cats and see if I am right– that arpeggios are what cats like.



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